Seawolf Slug: Alaskans can’t hear Oscar buzz

Graphic by Roz Kirkelie
Graphic by Roz Kirkelie

It’s a difficult time to be an Alaskan film lover.

Commercials, ads, trailers and accolades are flying left and right for films like “Dallas Buyers Club.” They feature big-name actors in career-defining roles, telling complex, smart and tough stories. They’re showcases of how a fine film should be done.

And not a lot of them are showing anywhere in Alaska.

Instead, we get films like “Free Birds” or “Escape Plan,” because film industry wisdom apparently dictates that all we Alaskans like are CGI talking animals and Schwarzenegger action films, not real-life drama or character studies.

George hasn’t had to say this since the 2008 presidential elections, and he can’t believe he has to say it again, but…


There is more to our tastes than corny one-liners, toilet humor and giant CG explosions. Our tastes are more sophisticated than that, like those of other human beings.

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Normally, I would stop there. It is such a simple and obvious message that I think only the vainest would misunderstand, even at first. But I accompanied George to a few film reviews, and no, the film industry has to go further. They have to taunt us now.

The films that are not coming to Alaska are still being advertised on Alaska television, on the radio, in our papers and, hell, even in the theaters themselves. Yep. There are posters up at the Century 16 for these movies. They’re still showing trailers for them in front of other movies, as if to say, “If only you weren’t Alaskan, then you could be as highbrow as the rest of we Americans.”

Please, film industry. Stop this. Stop this now. This isn’t cool. Seriously.

I don’t know if George feels this way, but until they do bother to release these films in Alaska — in any fashion, somehow — then I see this as an insult to Alaskans.

Either that, or the film industry has grown so monumentally stupid that, in their lust for money, they’ll hopelessly advertise their products to people before realizing they can’t buy them in the first place. Actually, I do rather like that perspective. It paints a beautiful, disgustingly comical picture.

George tells me there was another film earlier this year that never came to Anchorage, despite lots of advertising and media coverage in-state. You guys know this story well, I presume: I speak of “The Frozen Ground.”

As most of you know, the film dramatically retold the story of Robert Hansen, the infamous serial killer from Anchorage, and the events that led to his capture.

Most perplexing is that “Frozen Ground” was actually filmed in Anchorage. In fact, part of it was filmed on Spenard, very close to where George resides. Even creepier, George’s dad actually knew the guy! It’s a story both he and his son like to brag about at parties. So if anything, people in Anchorage have every right to see how this movie was!

Except it didn’t come to Anchorage. Some have theorized that it’s because it maybe paints Anchorage in a negative light or it wouldn’t have made a profit or whatever. It was a massive conspiracy at the time, and even though it did show in the Matanuska Valley, Anchorage film enthusiasts were still miffed.

And now we seem to have a trend, where excellent, Oscar-season titles are getting the shaft from Alaska theaters. They’re advertised here, and the theaters are part of international chains, but apparently they’re still too good for Alaskans.

Folks, this has to change. We can’t sit by and ignore these films, because critics from other states say we can’t. So how can we see or purchase these products?

I suppose the answer is patience. After all, “12 Years a Slave” arrived this weekend, a couple weeks after it was initially released everywhere else. And even if larger theaters won’t screen them, Bear Tooth will very likely play these films at some point. Still, every time George and I see ads for these movies, it still sends us into a fit of rage. So here’s what we propose.

If you’re against this, send this article to the filmmakers. Tell them that until we are able to see their movies, they are wasting their advertising dollars here. Write Bear Tooth Theatre Pub and pressure them to show these films. Because we Alaskans deserve a lot better than this.