KODIAK — A new miniseries will bring Kodiak to Russian TV viewers sometime next year, if all goes as planned.
A five-person film crew visited the island’s largest city and Karluk for four days of filming and interviews for “The Russian-American Project” before heading to Sitka for another five days of work.
The project is being funded by Mosfilm, the largest film studio in Russia.
Alexander Petrov is the group’s translator and research adviser, as well as the co-author with Kodiak historian Dawn Black of a book about the Shelikhov family. The Shelikhovs were instrumental in the Russian settlement of Alaska.
Petrov said Kodiak will appear in episode two of the eight-part series, focusing on the Shelikhovs’ influence in Russian America.
“It’s very important that Russia pays more attention to the region,” he said, explaining that a resurgence in Arctic studies means Alaska has become more significant. “There’s great interest in Russian America right now, and we are trying to explain that.”
Petrov said the crew began its stay in Alaska in Anchorage, after flying from Moscow.
“We talked with (state archaeologist) Dave McMahan,” he said. “We also visited the (Anchorage) museum.”
After filming Russian sites around Anchorage, the crew came to Kodiak Island, where it attended a lecture by Alutiiq Museum director Sven Haakenson, who discussed collections of Alutiiq artifacts held by Russian museums.
The crew later traveled to Karluk, where Black said she provided narration for the filmmakers as they worked around the village’s old church.
“Things just went really well,” Black said. “I think they got what they wanted here; they filmed the beauty of the town of Kodiak.”
Petrov said other episodes of the series will focus on Native interaction with Russian explorers and settlers, as well as Russian exploration around the world. The bicentennial of Fort Ross, the Russian settlement in California, is next year, he said, and the series should be part of that anniversary celebration.
“We look forward to collaboration,” he said.