Movie Review: 'The Last Days of Shishmaref'

""The Last Days of Shishmaref" -- perhaps as close and detailed a look at the lives of the Inupiaq Eskimo of northwest Alaska as has been recorded in 35mm color film -- has a clear agenda: Move the town.

It's difficult to watch the 88-minute documentary (as a packed house did at the Anchorage International Film Festival on Sunday) without sympathy for the villagers of the Chukchi Sea coastal community and their desire to relocate the entire population of 600 people a few dozen miles inland, where a new village would be constructed.

They want to move because Shishmaref, a settlement in a cluster of wood-frame houses and other buildings standing on a sandy barrier island five miles from the mainland, is literally being washed out to sea a few feet every year.

Director Jan Louter of the Netherlands told the audience following Sunday's screening that the villagers "have been called the first victims of global warming" and described them as too poor to protect themselves from the impending doom, a point his film makes exceedingly well."

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Film explores eroding Alaska village (The Anchorage Daily News 12/11)