In this podcast, Paul Farren talks to Tom Burke, the director of Losing Alaska, which tells the story of a small community in Alaska called Newtok who are dealing with a slow-moving disaster. The 375 inhabitants of Newtok feel the winter storms grow more fierce each year and steal their coastline, they watch their homes disappear into rolling seas as the melting permafrost erodes the edges of their town. The plan is to abandon the town and start again 9 miles up the river on higher, more solid ground. The community is divided between those determined to stay, and those equally determined to move. They are fighting the weather, the indifference of state agencies and now, finally, each other.
As well as discussing the intricacies of the ways of life of the people of Newtok and the challenges they face, Tom talks about how the project came to be, telling a big story through the prism of a small situation, people trying to survive in a changing world, the nature of documentary, telling people’s stories, not taking sides, the joy of seagull eggs, screening the film in Newtok, the practicalities of filmmaking in such an environment, cameras and lenses, discovering a frozen-tripod-head panning technique, working with Gerry Horan on the soundtrack, creating a cinematic documentary and the onset of frostbite.
Losing Alaska is released in cinemas 4th October 2019.