Wednesday, December 15, 2010

AIFF 2010: Best of The Fest - Statehood

It's hard for me to write much of substance about the films I see during the festival.  I need a bit time to digest and time to write.  And then there are more films to see that day so serious comment has to wait.  So I will be commenting on some of the films in the next few weeks.  Last night we saw Empire of Silver and the various short films that won awards.  Tonight we saw Statehood, which got Best of Snowdance Audience Choice Award.

The premier of Statehood was Sunday, but I have to admit that a movie called Statehood didn't sound all that exciting it would have meant a lot more driving back and forth.  I'm glad it won the award, because it is a movie all Alaskans should see - and I hope a lot of school kids will see it over the years.

Laurence Goldin and Joaqlin Estus Before Statehood
Most interesting to me was the tension between the Outside corporations who were extracting Alaska's resources and giving nothing back and the portrayal of them as buying the legislature to keep their sweet deal.  The corporations had most newspapers locked up and attacked anyone who spoke against them - and talked about their great contributions to the territory.
It's easy for most people to get that when it happened 50 years ago, but when their own jobs are on the line today, it's easy to be frightened into supporting the corporations that are giving you a pittance on the dollar for your resources.

Ernest Gruening, Bob Bartlett, and to my surprise, Bob Atwood were the heroes of this movie.  Atwood, a strong Statehood supporter, backed anti-corporation candidates to the territorial legislature in his newspaper, which set up a legislature that backed Statehood and led to the Constitutional Convention.  It also reminded me it's time to reread Alaska history.

This was a surprisingly good film, mixing archival film and interviews with people who were there - Ted Stevens, Tom Steward[t], George Rogers, Katie Hurley, Vic Fischer, and a few more - plus some academic types.  Though my only real criticism of the way the film was made was the modern interviews were so incredibly sharp and detailed that they were pretty unflattering for most of the people and made the contrast between the old and new footage much harsher than necessary.

Here's film maker Laurence Goldin introducing the film.


  1. Well, Statehood doesn't sound an exciting movie title in Hungary either, but statehood is very important for us. Our holy relics (coronation regalia, holy right hand, coat of arms) connected to state establishment are very important for Hungarians.

    Maybe we can see a trailer from the movie?

  2. It's Tom Stewart, not Steward.

  3. Ropi, you can see a trailer here:;jsessionid=A3A833B18595FBF3208F222A50FB2F4

    Harpboy, I think that was a hybrid of Stewart and Seward. Thanks. And watch for a harp here soon.


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