French TV crew films Kenaitze tribe members at their Cook Inlet fishing site
European interest in Alaska seems to be increasing as evidenced by a recent French TV documentary intended for international viewing on worldwide Channel 5 later this year. The French TV film crew was on the Kenai Peninsula earlier this summer filming cultural interests such as the Russian Villages and Kenaitze educational fishery. “The idea is to produce a two hour prime time program for national French TV on a variety of Alaskan topics such as Native and Russian cultures, dog mushing, oil and gas development, and global warming,” said Francois Duveux of Marseilles, France. “We hope there is a large interest. To French people Alaska is very far away and while they know where it is they have not been exposed to much more than pictures of Eskimos and we hope our program will show them much more of the Alaskan ways of life,” Duveux explained during an interview at the Kenaitze educational fishing site on Kalifornsky Beach.
Kenaitze tribe member Sharon Isaak shows French TV crew the replacement for the traditional Ulu
According to Duveux, French TV is similar to U.S. TV in that they have both commercial and public broadcasting. “Channel 5 is similar to the Discovery channel but more the equivalent of BBC in its worldwide audience covering the Americas, Africa, and Asia as well as Europe. Our program will be aired on a Monday night sometime in the fall,” said Duveux.
The French TV crew spent a day shadowing and filming members of the Kenaitze tribe as they harvested fish this summer, “Here at our site on the Kenai off Cannery Rd. we have what we call our educational fishery which helps us maintain and keep our traditions and culture in tact as well as teaching very important lessons to our young people as we pass these traditions for nutrition and preserving resources to the next generation. We have four generations here today and it’s what we’ve done forever, it’s a huge part of my life, you’ve got to get your hands dirty,” said Kenaitze member Bunny Swan-Gease.
18-year-old Christy Isaak recalled that when she and her sister were little their favorite memory was taking the live heart from the fish and keeping it beating, “It’s one of my best memories and now I watch the younger kids doing the same thing and freaking out, it’s really fun being part of the harvest. We bring people here who haven’t had this opportunity and they really enjoy experiencing our way of life as much as we do,” commented Isaak.
The air date of the French TV Alaska documentary has yet to be announced.
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