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Understanding Golovin: A Film on Alaskan Life Amidst Climate Change

The promotional title card for the short film courtesy of KTOO.

The short film “A Beautiful Place” covers the lives and challenges faced by the residents of Golovin, Alaska. The 26-minute film directed by Atman Mehta offers a poignant look at community life amidst the backdrop of climate change.

Mehta, originally from Mumbai, India, spent over a year visiting Golovin between 2021 and 2022. Mehta’s background in anthropology and his mentorship under renowned filmmaker Ellen Frankenstein guided his approach.

“I wanted to create a film in Alaska because it’s such a unique place,” Mehta said. “Everyone in the lower 48, and even around the world, deserves to understand this place better.”

The film features several residents of Golovin, including a former mayor, school teacher, and tribal healer. Mehta highlights their day-to-day lives and the broader challenges posed by climate change. In light of these difficulties, Mehta hopes that viewers of “A Beautiful Place” will come away with a deeper understanding and empathy for the people of Golovin.

“What I hope I’ve accomplished with this film is to be able to give audiences, no matter where they are, some kind of glimpse into what life is like in Golovin,” Mehta said. “So they will be able to develop some kind of empathy for that community, which otherwise they might encounter and might not visit.”

According to local resident Jack Brown, Golovin has seen their shoreline erode over 50 feet. Rising water temperatures have also made some of the village’s traditional fishing grounds, critical for subsistence, unlivable for fish.

Carol Oliver, known mononymously as “Oxie”, is a lifelong resident of Golovin.

"Growing up we could eat fish for lunch or dinner. And we always gathered together, but we don't do that anymore. We don't even have that much to share. We're not trying to make you sad or anything, but we want you to realize that changes are happening and for us here in Golovin, it's really happening fast.”

Oxie hopes that the film will remind government leaders that tribes should be consulted before making decisions that can affect the village’s way of life. 

“I think state and federal governments have to realize that we have policies too. We ask that they partner or meet with us when decisions like that are being made because our way of life and subsistence is our highest priority,” Oxie said.

The film will air on KTOO Thursday, May 23 at 8:00 p.m. and will also be available on KTOO’s website and Roku app for those unable to catch the live broadcast. Visit KTOO’s website for re-run times and how to tune to the station in your area. 

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