Effort to preserve Alaska's voices, images worth noting

Posted: Tuesday, August 10, 2004

A group of Anchorage film and tape experts is making a laudable and continuing effort to collect moments of Alaska history that have been captured on film, video and audio tape.

The Alaska Moving Image Preservation Association has launched an ambitious effort to capture, catalog and make available to the public the work of filmmakers great and small who have recorded critical pieces of the state's history.

Among the items headed for its archives in new quarters at the University of Alaska Anchorage are historic pieces by famed Anchorage pilot and filmmaker Lowell Thomas Jr.; Anchorage cinematographer Bill Bacon, whose credits include shooting movies for Walt Disney; and pioneer Alaska broadcaster Augie Hiebert.

AMIPA is collecting film and video material from professional filmmakers and cinematographers, educational institutions, government agencies, non-profits, Native groups and even individuals with historic or culturally significant home movies.

The group is rescuing moving image and recorded sound collections that were winding up in cardboard boxes, closets and storage rooms because nobody knew what to do with them. An official of the group reports that it has already collected 16,000 items and catalogued 6,700 of them, a normal backlog for such an endeavor.

The group has received a variety of grants and donations, including $500,000 from the National Endowment for the Arts, which was secured by Catherine Stevens and her husband, Sen. Ted Stevens. Mrs. Stevens is former general counsel of the endowment.

Because Alaska is such a young state, much of its history occurred during the era of film and tape and was captured. That makes the ''voices and images of Alaska'' project an important contribution to Alaska's recorded culture.

The Voice of the (Anchorage) Times

Aug. 4

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