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THE STRANGEST TOWN IN ALASKA
A Project in Development


Whittier, Alaska is nestled on the shore of Prince William Sound, one hour south of Anchorage. But the beautiful natural setting is no match for its strangeness. The only way in and out of Whittier is a single lane, one-way tunnel that changes direction every half hour. The tunnel closes at 10pm each night, 5pm in the winter, locking everyone in for the night. No exceptions.

Of the 200 people who live in Whittier year-round, 180 of them live in a single 14-story apartment building. Winter starts in early October and rages on for 7 months of near-total darkness and an average 9 feet of snow at -20 F and wind gusts of up to 80 MPH. Most residents of the tower don't venture out unless they have to, or until the 2-story high snow drifts melt away in May and the cruise ships arrive. The 30 schoolchildren who were born there have no choice, but most of its residents voluntarily live in this strange community and call it home.

So what happens when you have 180 people cooped up in an apartment building in the middle of nowhere for seven months? We're thinking something like Northern Exposure meets The Shining.

Here's a little teaser we made over the course of a few weeks - I hope to return to Whittier for a full winter cycle to continue my exploration of the choices we make in living the way we do.

Directed by Bari Pearlman
Laela Kilbourn, Director of Photography
Richard Gin, Field Sound Recordist
Enat Sidi, Editor
Produced by Cypress Films