A new film, “Icebound,” documents the race against death and opened the Anchorage International Film Festival last month. The 95-minute picture is narrated by Patrick Stewart, and a national theatrical release is set for this spring. Eight years in the making, the film details the rescue efforts, using black-and-white photographs and film footage, interviews with survivors and descendants, modern mushers and historians, and longtime Alaska journalists.
“It's a small moment in history for which you can extrapolate all these larger truths about American culture,” filmmaker Daniel Anker said.
The documentary revives a story that captured the nation's imagination from radio and newspaper reports telling of the drama playing out in the frozen north, where temperatures plunged to 50 below that long-ago January.
The first of two supply runs took five days, and the saga quickly reached mythic proportions. Months afterward, a bronze statue of the sled dog Balto went up in New York's Central Park.
The official medical record counted five deaths and 29 stricken residents in the Nome outbreak. However, many believe that deaths among Alaska Natives were never accurately tracked during a time when they were segregated from Nome's white residents.
Balto, namesake star of a 1995 animated film about the outbreak, became famous out of scores of other dogs because he was a lead canine on the last leg of the first relay.
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