In an effort to bring some movie magic to theater-less Unalaska, the Museum of the Aleutians (MOTA) is kicking off a free foreign film series this weekend.
“One of the things I’ve noticed since moving to Unalaska is that there’s a hunger for movies,” said MOTA Program Director Richard Barnes.
When Barnes arrived on the island last year and discovered there was no cinema, he says using the museum classroom -- complete with a high-quality projector -- seemed like an obvious solution.
“Because we’re a museum and we’re focused on expanding cultural lines, we decided to do a series of three foreign films," he said. "They're films that people aren’t likely to see or films that are just plain hard to see because of their rarity.”
Up first, the museum is screening the 1965 Japanese film “Retreat from Kiska.” The movie is a fictionalized version of the foreign troops’ secret withdrawal from Kiska Island at the end of World War II’s Aleutian campaign.
Barnes said the Japanese struggled with how to portray the war in film after they lost and suffered heavy casualties.
"This movie was their way to valorize their war years without having a murderous WWII-era army on display," he said.
Barnes said “Retreat from Kiska” was an easy choice, given its connection to Aleutian history, but the museum wanted to showcase a variety of rare films as well.
For the second movie, they settled on “Bran Nue Dae,” a 2009 Australian musical comedy the follows an Aboriginal teenager as he comes of age. The third and final showing is “Nausicaa and the Valley of the Wind.” Made in Japan in 1984, the animated adventure film tells the story of a young princess who fights to bring peace to her homeland.
MOTA has never hosted a film series before, according to Barnes. He said the program is part of a renewed effort to test out different events at the museum and see how the community responds.
"If numerous people come and demand more movies, then we might have more movie events every couple of months," he said. "If they don’t, this will just be a cool program that we tried out.”
The first screening starts Saturday, Feb. 11 at 3 p.m. The series will continue with showings on Feb. 18 and 25.