September 18, 2007

“Seeing our first pod of spawning sockeye weave around the raft was a memorable moment, but after a few days and hundreds of sightings it just seemed normal to see massive glowing cherry-red fish darting around like roaches when the lights goes on. It makes the river feel alive, like a vein pulsing blood from the ocean into the hills. Feeding almost everything that breathes.” –Ben Knight on Felt Soul Media‘s blog, The Wire

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We think this will be the ubiquitous image from the upcoming film Red Gold. Thousands of sockeye salmon running upstream near Bristol Bay. Photo by Ben Knight

Ben Knight and Travis Rummel, the filmmakers who premiered The Hatch and Running Down the Man at Mountainfilm in past years, recently returned from filming a new project in Alaska. Yes, it is about fishing.

Ben, who is only communicating by text message at the moment, has been hunkered down in his editing cave for the past few weeks working on the preview for Red Gold.

The long format version is finished, and we’ve managed to get our hands on a copy here at Mountainfilm. It’s good. In fact, it’s pretty astounding. In a few short minutes it introduces the complex and controversial situation facing the world’s largest freshwater salmon hatchery near Bristol Bay, Alaska: the proposed Pebble Mine. Northern Dynasty Minerals hasn’t even applied for permits for the mine yet—they’re still doing tests and fact-finding missions—but the controversy is already bubbling, ready to boil.

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Guide Kris Kennedy tends to a small child-sized Nushagak rainbow while big Rummel burns some card. Photo by Ben Knight

Red Gold will force us to face the complexity of an issue that is on the surface an environmental question. But as with any “environmental” issue, the real source of the conflict is not an attempt to keep humans away from and out of “pristine” wilderness—after all, who are we saving the wilderness for if not ourselves?—but it is a familiar debate between the importance of a community history based on subsistence livelihood versus perceived progress and wealth.

Ben tells me the film is expected to be around 45 minutes; their longest yet. We’re hoping to arrange a public screening of the preview some time soon, stay tuned!

Posted by Emily Long

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