Red Gold -- the award-winning film documenting salmon fishing culture in Bristol Bay -- returns to Seattle next week, three years after its first local screening.
Since 2008, Red Gold has become the leading galvanizing tool for activists fighting the proposed Pebble Mine project, which threatens to devastate Alaska's richest commercial fishery. Co-directors Ben Knight and Travis Rummel have traveled with the film to Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, and Bologna, Italy, where attendees at an international Slow Food conference were awed by Knight and Rummel's images of salmon migration. In the grand tradition of reel-to-reels and filmstrips shared with interested audiences in church basements, the documentary has been screened on college campuses and in restaurants.
"It gets people fired up in a way a print story and photos can't," Rummel says. "It's become the iconic film for the issue."
Rummel says he and Knight had no idea they were embarking on an advocacy project when they booked their trip to Alaska. They'd planned to make a movie about fly fishing. "The more time we spent up there, fly fishing took a backseat," Rummel says.
According to Rummel, the atmospheric nature of the film has prevented Red Gold from becoming outdated, but an update is planned. Rummel and Knight in 2009 collected new footage for an upcoming Frontline episode. "It will be much more newsy, with the nitty-gritty that we shied away from," Rummel says.
The directors are now in Washington D.C., conducting interviews for a documentary on dam removal and salmon restoration. The film, slated for release next summer, will include coverage of the Elwha River. "We're still looking at how to have a thriving source of fish," Rummel says.
Trout Unlimited's Red Gold Roadshow - taglined "2 weeks, 7 cities, 1 goal" - starts in Seattle's Leif Erikson Lodge on Monday at 7 p.m. Admission to the movie is free.