Susitna River film sells out at premiere

Packed house in Talkeetna. Photo by Kalyn Simon

By Jenny Weis

At a small airplane hangar renovated into a community theater and art space in “downtown” Talkeetna, Alaska, every seat was filled with locals excited to see their efforts to protect their river, economy and way of life hit the “big screen.”

They were gathered to see the new film Super Salmon, from Alaska based filmmaker Ryan Peterson. In this film, Peterson documents the threats posed by the proposed Susitna dam. More than the dam, however, it is clear how the community of Talkeetna, the Susitna River and its beautiful tributaries, and the five species of salmon that support a local economy and tourist-friendly culture inspired him.


The trailer for "Super Salmon."

The film follows the incredible journey of one particular King salmon who swam from the mouth of the Susitna River in Cook Inlet all the way up to its glacial headwaters. Following this journey, Peterson documents the importance of the River and its fish to the region – its economy, communities, and culture. In this story, Peterson outlines the threat posed by the Susitna dam and the work of the Susitna River Coalition to protect their homes and stop the construction of the Susitna dam.

For nearly four years Trout Unlimited has worked closely with the local Talkeetna community to fight against the Susitna dam. The Susitna River Coalition, based in Talkeetna, is a fearless group of tireless volunteers. Their work is outstanding and the community came out with bells on to support them and Peterson at the premier. After the film screened, there was a Q&A with Peterson and members of the Coalition. Some residents even stayed late to watch the film again.

The film release is the latest in a number of milestones in the effort to preserve a free-flowing Susitna River and inform the public about the threats posed by the dam. As dams are removed throughout the Pacific Northwest, the State of Alaska is pursuing a proposal that would become the 2nd tallest dam in the United States and would pose significant harmful impacts to the Susitna River’s five species of salmon, caribou migration routes, and tourism- and fish-based businesses.

The Susitna River. Photo by Travis Rummel

The Susitna River, where the dam is proposed, is America’s 15th largest river by volume and drains an area nearly the size of West Virginia. The vast valleys that feed the Susitna River comprise some of the states most visited areas. It is the heart of Southcentral Alaska: massive mountains, deep forests, open tundra, and small communities with river-based economies. The river flows from mountain glaciers, unimpeded for 300 miles, through some the Alaska’s most rugged and wild landscapes to meet the Pacific Ocean near Anchorage where it is a significant contributor to Cook Inlet’s wild salmon fisheries.

Needless to say, the dam is not a good idea.

Stay tuned to TU Alaska or the SRC facebook page to find showings of Super Salmon near you! 

Jenny Weis is the Alaska Program Communications and Digital Advocacy Specialist and is based in Anchorage. 


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