Spirit of the Wind: The George Attla Story

Spirit of the Wind George AttlaThe award-winning 1979 movie Spirit of the Wind is based upon the early life and rise to prominence of the legendary Athabaskan trapper and dog musher George Attla, Jr., who won the Anchorage Fur Rendezvous World Championship race an unprecedented ten times between 1958 and 1982.

Spirit of the Wind George AttlaThe film, now on DVD for the first time, tells the story of young George Attla growing up in the interior village of Huslia, being diagnosed with tuberculosis and spending several years away from home in a Sitka hospital. Upon returning to his village he struggled to rejoin the cultural fabric, and fast sled dogs became his saving grace, taking him to ten World Championships. He also won eight championships in the Fairbanks Open North American Championship race, and in 1973 he ran the inaugural 1,000-mile Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, placing fifth even though his experience was in sprint racing, and not long-distance mushing.

With dramatically beautiful photography and a haunting musical score, Spirit of the Wind won the Best Picture Award at the 1979 Sundance Film Festival. It was an unexpected hit at the Cannes International Film Festival the same year, and was hailed by the New York Post, Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle and many others as a stunning achievement in cinematography.

Now available from Northern Light Media:

Spirit of the Wind George Attla Spirit of the Wind

• Released in December, 1979
• Running time 1 hour, 38 minutes
• Directed by Ralph Liddle
• Produced by Ralph Liddle and Kent Gibson
• Written by Ralph Liddle and John Logue
• Music by Will Ackerman and Buffy Sainte-Marie
• Cinematography by John Logue
• Edited by Mark Goldblatt
• Cast:
~Pius Savage as George Attla
~George Clutesi as George’s father
~Slim Pickens as Obie
~Chief Dan George as Moses
~Rose Attla Ambrose as Mother
~William Ambrose as Young George
~Rudy Wiehl as Young Steven
~Eileen Newman as Young Marie
~Louis Ambrose as Young Robert
~Phyllis Attla as Marie
~Curtis Erhart as Robert
~Ace Rollins as Man in truck
~Charlie Peters as Sammy Sam, the fiddler
~Lee Salisbury as Doctor
~Melinda Matsen as Nurse
~John Adams as Isaak Isugliak, the kid at the hospital
~Leonard Kriska as Wilson Paul
~Terry Edwin as Lambert
~John Allen as Job interviewer
~Merv Hilpipre as Gareth Wright
~Madeline Solomon as Moses Paul’s wife
~Barbara Richards as Waitress
~Bill Walley as Sportscaster
~Dorothy Bainter as Janis
~Carol Yazzie as Sindi
~Jack Williams as Man in bar

SOTW poster for the WEB

 

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About Helen Hegener

I write books about Alaskan history, and titles currently available include Alaskan Roadhouses, The First Iditarod, The All Alaska Sweepstakes, The Yukon Quest Trail, The Matanuska Colony Barns, and others. I am currently researching and writing a book on the early history and construction of the Alaska Railroad. You can contact me via email at helenhegener@gmail.com
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