Price: $310.00

    Code: 2344

    Directed by Jan Louter
    2008, 90 minutes
    Purchase: $310 | Classroom Rental: $125

    An astounding documentary on the first victims of global warming, The Last Days of Shishmaref travels to a small village in northwest Alaska, home to an Inupiaq Eskimo community, where homes are literally falling into the sea. The entire village is expected to disappear within 10 years.

    Shishmaref is the sole settlement on Sarichef, an island in the Chukchi Sea, situated just south of the polar circle, in Alaska. The nearest towns are over 150 kilometers away. The island is inhabited by a community of Inupiaq families who, for centuries, have been eking out a self-supporting existence with hunting as their main source of livelihood.

    In the past few years the village has been forced to confront two great forces. One the one hand, the increasing influence of modern Western culture, such as the arrival of satellite television, the internet, western clothes, music and food, has caused a deep schism between the older and younger generations.

    At the same time, another threat is slowly mounting. Due to the Earth's increasing temperature - in Alaska the temperature has risen 4 degrees Celsius in the past 30 years - the polar ice caps have started to melt and the sea frozen much later in the year. As a result, each year, winter storms terrorize the island for much longer periods, causing enormous damage to its coastline. Large areas of Shishmaref have already crumbled into the ocean. In order to save them, fourteen houses had to be moved further up on the island on large skis. The entire Inupiaq community is now facing a very difficult and expensive decision - whether to move the entire village to the mainland, an act that will irreparably change their community, their livelihood, culture and traditions.

    Subjects & Collections

    Festivals & Awards

    * Alaska Conservation Foundation's Daniel Housberg Wilderness Image Award for Excellence in Film or Video, 2010
    * Winner, WWF (World Wildlife Fund) Award, Thessaloniki Documentary Festival, 2010
    * Special Mention by the Jury, AFI Los Angeles Film Festival, 2008
    * Official Selection, Anchorage Film Festival, 2009
    * Official Selection, Rotterdam International Film Festival, 2009


    “A mesmerizing documentary that is highly recommended. Beautifully filmed, it does not overtly politicize the often volatile issue of the causes of global warming. The film is more concerned with the effects of climate change rather than the causes. The film contrasts the more traditional lives of the older generation, who are seen ice fishing and hunting with a younger generation, who listen to rap music and prefer Western food. This contrast not only sheds light on the growing materialism of the younger generation but also hints at the greater impact that Western lifestyles have on the environment without ever becoming didactic. Louter allows the audience to make their own connections.” – Educational Media Reviews Online

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