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By Dan Rudy 

Stikine documentary explores the importance of water


Dan Rudy/ Wrangell Sentinel

Filmmakers Freddie Munoz, Alex Crook, Liz Purdy and Daven Hafey pause from conducting interviews for a group photo behind Wrangell's Harbor Light Church on Thursday. The four are putting together a documentary about the Stikine River that highlights its importance to the lives and well-being of those who live here.

A film crew working on a documentary that will highlight the relationship between the Stikine River and those who rely on it stopped into Wrangell last week.

"We're gathering people's stories on why clean water is important to them," explained Daven Hafey, the project's director and producer. After visiting residents in Telegraph, on Thursday the crew was documenting firsthand accounts in the rumpus room of Wrangell's Harbor Light Church.

"There's a guy yesterday that said 'water is not a radical thing, it's something everybody supports,'" Hafey recounted. "'Everybody in this room depends on it.'"

With the working title "Water is Life," the film is being funded by the Inside Passage Water Keeper (IPWK) program, a Juneau affiliate of the International Water Keeper Alliance launched by the Southeast Alaska Conservation Council.

Though the crew's videographer Alex Crook has worked on other film projects, "Water is Life" is a first for Hafey.

"Everything has gone really smoothly," he said. "Most people have been very supportive of this video."

The crew have been receiving unexpected assistance, being given rides or shown around by passersby. Hafey described the communities they have visited as being warmly welcoming.

"I love it," said the crew's photographer, Freddie Munoz. "It's been an absolute dream trip."

For his part of the project, Munoz has been capturing shots of people as they use the river, "to tell that story of people using that natural resource," he explained.

Hafey recollected seeing three generations – grandfather, father and son – together cleaning a moose they had shot along the river.

"That says it all," he said. The river is a unifying feature for the region, as important to commerce and livelihoods as it is to quality of life. "It's not just a pretty landscape," but rather is "the lifeblood of Wrangell and Telegraph."

Hafey stressed that the video will steer clear of politicking. But the video is not going to be focused on the science of water, either. Rather, the filmmakers hope to illustrate how the need for clean water is embedded in local people's lives.

"It's more that human interest," he explained, presenting how "they're all connected to the water. Everybody knows that, but it's just a little bit easy to forget."

Though a date hasn't been fixed, the video should be ready for release sometime this fall.

"We're hopeful that it'll be prior to the holiday season," said Liz Purdy, IPWK's clean water campaigner.

The IPWK has also made the news recently with its upcoming "A Naked Truth about Clean Water" wall calendar. Using submissions from the regions' fishermen, hunters, hikers, kayakers – anybody who enjoys the Southeast's sea and rivers – the 2015 calendar will incorporate tastefully-done nude photos to raise clean-water awareness.

Submissions ought to include a statement with each entrant's take on "the naked truth" about clean water. The deadline is Oct. 1, and entries can be sent to info@seacc.org.

Established earlier this year, the organization is still in its formative stages and is currently seeking members for its eight-member advisory committee. Those interested in getting involved can contact Purdy at insidepassagewaterkeeper



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