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The Drums of Winter (Uksuum Cauyai), Part 1
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The Drums of Winter (Uksuum Cauyai)
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This feature-length documentary explores the traditional dance, music and spiritual world of the Yupik Eskimo people of Emmonak, a remote village at the mouth of the Yukon River on the Bering Sea coast.

The Drums of Winter gives an intimate look at a way of life of which most of us have seen only glimpses. Dance was once at the heart of Yupik Eskimo spiritual and social life. It was the bridge between the ancient and the new, the living and the dead and a person's own power and the greater powers of the unseen world.

In The Drums of Winter, the people of Emmonak tell us through actualities and interviews how their history, social values and spiritual beliefs are woven around the songs and dances that have been handed down to them through the generations. We also learn that it is not just old songs that are important; new songs and dance movements are created to reflect modern life with all its complexities. Each time a person gets up to dance, he is strengthening the continuity of the ages, and insuring the survival of his culture.

The film follows the elders of Emmonak as they prepare for the coming ceremonial gathering (potlatch) with a neighboring village. In the Kashim (qasgiq or men's house), they practice their songs and painstakingly work out the motions of the dances. Each movement has meaning and plays a part in telling a story. In the days before television, radio, bingo and weekly basketball games, dance was the sole means of entertainment.

Throughout the film, archival photographs and film footage accompany the words of early missionaries who brought Christianity to the area. These sequences provide a historical context for the film and give us a strong sense of the resilience of Yup'ik culture, having survived despite a century of missionary suppression.

Film Festivals, Screenings, Awards: The Best of the Mead, Margaret Mead Film Festival, Osaka, Japan, 2000; Third Prize, Nuoro Ethnographic Film Festival, Nuoro, Sardinia, 1998; Best Feature Documentary, Best Documentary Director, Best Cinematography, Festival of the Native Americas, Santa Fe, 1996; The Heritage Award, Alaska International Film Festival, Anchorage, 1995; Award of Excellence, American Anthropological Assoc., New Orleans, 1991; Special Commendation, International Ethnographic Film Festival, Manchester, UK, 1990; Grand Prix Best of Festival,Third International Arctic Film Festival, Fermo, Italy, 1989; First Prize, Blue Ribbon,American Film Festival, Chicago, 1989; Silver Apple Award,Educational Film and Video Festival, San Francisco, 1989; The Northern Lights International Film Festival, Anchorage, 1996 Parnu International Visual Anthropological Festival, Parnu, Estonia, 1991 Hawaii International Film Festival East-West ; Center, Honolulu, Hawaii, 1989 Neighbor Islands Festival Week of the Hawaii International Film Festival, Kauai, Kona, and Hilo, 1989; Anthropos International Film Festival, Los Angeles, 1989 Musica Dei Popoli Festival of Ethnomusicology Films, Florence, Italy, 1989 Tallin International Ethnographic Film Fesival, Tallin; Estonia USSR, 1988 Margaret Mead Film Festival, American Premier, New York, September 1988

Filmmaker: Sarah Elder, Leonard Kamerling

PPR
Running Time
92 mins
Nb videos
2 videos included
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