College of Liberal Arts & Sciences / Social Science

“Drums of Winter” film to be shown on campus

Western Oregon University will screen “Drums of Winter” on April 30 at 4:15 p.m. in the Willamette Room of Werner University Center. Following the film, there will be a question-and-answer session at about 5:45 p.m. with one of the film’s directors, Leonard Kamerling. The Jensen Arctic Museum will hold an open house from 3 to 4 p.m., with Kamerling.

“Drums of Winter” 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 people of Emmonak tell 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. Dance was once at the heart of Yupik Eskimo spiritual and social life, the bridge between the ancient and new, the living and the dead, and a person’s own power and the greater powers of the unseen world.

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.

The film has won numerous awards, including “The Best of the Mead” at the Margaret Mead Film Festival, third prize in the Nuoro Ethnograhpic Film Festval, and awards for “Best Feature Documentary,” “Best Documentary Director” and “Best Cinematography” at the Festival of the Native Americas. It has also been named to the National Film Registry at the Library of Congress.

Leonard Kamerling

Leonard Kamerling is curator of film at the University of Alaska Museum of the North, and an associate professor of English at University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF). Over the last 25 years, he has produced numerous critically acclaimed, international award winning documentary films about Alaska Native cultures and Northern issues. Throughout his career, he has been concerned with issues of cultural representation in film, cross-cultural communication and the role that flm and film writing can play in eliminating

He received his training at the London Film School, and earned his Master of Fine Arts creative writing from UAF. He joined the creative writing faculty in 1999 where he specializes in teaching writing for film, theater and television. His film, “Heart of the Country,” was nominated for the American Film Institute’s prestigious Par Lorenze Award.

This event is held with the assistance of the Arctic Research Consortium of the U.S. and the National Science Foundation.

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Contact for media:
Mike Baltzley
Assistant professor of biology
503-838-8832 or

One thought on ““Drums of Winter” film to be shown on campus

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