Each film tackled a unique topic or angle such as lawsuits, effects on Natives and their subsistence life, a videographer’s memories, a fisherwoman’s memories, lessons for the future, effects on fisheries, and social effects on the community.
The Exxon Valdez went aground in Prince William Sound on March 24, 1989, spilling thousands of barrels of oil into the water and then washing up on beaches around the Gulf of Alaska, including Kodiak.
“This lets us sic these kids on members of the community and get their stories,” said Tiffany Brunson, the Executive Director of the Baranov Museum.
Offered by the Baranov Museum and the Kodiak Historical Society in partnership with the Kodiak Island Borough School District and the Engaging Native Learners in Virtual Education Now program, the documentary filmmaking intensive class is in its third year.
The students worked three hours a day for three weeks on their films.
The hard work showed on Sunday.
The students had to spend time researching their topic at the library. Some said afterward that they hadn’t known very much about the spill and learned about it through the class.
The students then researched, contacted, and interviewed their subjects on camera.
They used old historical video clips, pictures and newspaper clippings effectively to illustrate their narratives and the interviewees’ words.
They also sought powerful quotes from their interviews to go along with the storyline:
“A lot of people in Kodiak that summer were under a lot of stress.”
“It was tragic.”
“All these years later, what sticks in my mind is the effect it had on the social fabric of the community.”
“They were fighting the oil spill like a war.”
During the screening, the crowd was touched and reacted to the voices and images on screen. Whispers of “I remember that” and “She looked so much younger back then” could be heard as the films played.
Afterward, an audience member asked how many of the students wanted to make another film, and every one of them raised their hand.
The films will be available at youtube.com/barmuse by Friday, June 27, according to Brunson.
Contact Julie Herrmann at firstname.lastname@example.org.