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April 15 Film to Examine Arctic Climate Change from an Inuit Perspective

Work-in-progress by celebrated UB filmmaker Sarah Elder is free, open to the public

Release Date: April 11, 2011

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A documentary on Arctic climate change by ethnographic filmmaker Sarah Elder will be shown April 15 in the Albright-Knox Art Gallery.

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- University at Buffalo Media Study Professor Sarah Elder, an ethnographic filmmaker of international recognition, will introduce her latest new project, "Surviving Arctic Climate Change: A Documentary on Inuit Knowledge," on April 15 from 4-6 p.m. in the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, 1285 Elmwood Ave., Buffalo.

The film, and the discussion with Elder to follow, will be free and open to the public.

This project, which celebrates the Inuit way of life and system of values that is disappearing in the face of global climate change, was produced with the full participation of a Yup'ik Eskimo community located on the coast of the Bering Sea. For 30 years, Elder has collaborated with Alaskan Native peoples to produce a series of award-winning films that include "The Drums of Winter" and "At the Time of Whaling."

She says, "This film documents ways in which residents respond to indeterminacy and the loss of economic and hunting/fishing viability. It investigates the shifts in cultural consciousness that occur when the environment no longer sustains, but menaces the survival of cultural knowledge and the practices of daily living."

Elder, whose home base for 25 years has been in Fairbanks, Alaska, says the impact of climate change on the Arctic is perhaps greater than anywhere else on earth.

"With rising sea levels, the loss of ancestral salmon fisheries and a warming tundra, Alaska's Native peoples are suffering from a cascading chain of environmental collapse," she says. "In the discourse of global warming, the threat to arctic species biodiversity often receives more attention than the threatened extinction of arctic aboriginal knowledge, values and practices."

The project was supported in part by a 2009-10 University at Buffalo Civic Engagement Research Fellowship and a 2010-11 UB Humanities Institute Faculty Research Fellowship.

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