Iñupiaq on the silver screen

I’m a bit slow posting about this, but apparently a new Drew Barrymore film, Everybody Loves Whales, is going to be filmed in Alaska (news story here). What a shocker –  movie set in Alaska that’s actually filmed in Alaska! For my fellow Alaskans, this is a familiar story: it’s about attempts to rescue some whales that got stuck in sea ice near Point Barrow in 1988. I don’t know if it was as widely broadcast in the Lower 48 or not, but for us it was a gripping news story. Will they rescue the whales? How will they even go about it?

Of course, the part I find particularly interesting is that the casting director is searching for Iñupiaq-speaking actors to be in the movie. They’re holding auditions in places like Anchorage, Kotzebue, Nome, Barrow, and Fairbank.

Schildt said they’re “keenly interested” in casting an Inupiaq man between 50 and 65 years old who speaks Inupiaq, and an Inupiaq boy between 10 and 13. “(The boy) doesn’t need to speak his language, but those are two key roles that we’re looking for,” she said.

I love that they’re not just planning to have someone who looks vaguely Native play the part and fake the language thing. (One typical Hollywood way to do this, of course, is just to have a thick accent when speaking English. Thick accent = I’m actually speaking “foreign” right now!) Wonder if the Iñupiat actors will be anyone I know?