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GCI awards two Alaska Natives with fellowship, trip to Hollywood

Finalists will help promote diversity and Alaska Native inclusion in TV and film industry


ANCHORAGE, Alaska – GCI, Alaska’s largest telecommunications company, awarded two Alaska Native content creators with the first-ever fellowship opportunity developed in collaboration with the Walter Kaitz Foundation, cable’s nonprofit arm which serves to advance diversity and inclusion throughout the industry.

GCI announced Anna Hoover, an Alaska filmmaker, and Phillip “Ossie” Kairaiuak, a composer, playwright and member of the indigenous music group Pamyua, as the GCI-Walter Kaitz fellowship recipients on Sunday night at the Anchorage International Film Festival’s awards ceremony. Hoover and Kairaiuak will travel to Los Angeles in February to attend the Walter Kaitz Foundation’s 9th Annual Hollywood Creative Forum, with the goal of establishing connections in the industry to propel their careers.

Image courtesy of GCI

Winners of the GCI/Walter Kaitz Fellowship: Anna Hoover [left], an Alaska filmmaker, and Phillip “Ossie” Kairaiuak, a composer, playwright and member of the indigenous music group Pamyua.

“Both Anna and Ossie are talented artists who are committed to advancing Alaska Native voices through their work,” said Heather Handyside, GCI’s senior director of corporate communications. “The selection committee was impressed with their body of work and we believe they will be excellent representatives of Alaska, as well as further GCI’s overall goal of seeing more Alaska Native inclusion in the industry, which is long overdue.”

Hoover, a Norweigian-Unangax̂ filmmaker from Naknek, produces documentary, fiction and art films that highlight Alaska Native culture. She wrote and directed her most recent film, a short fiction titled “The Last Walk.” The International Sami Film Institute of Norway funded the film, which was screened in Berlin, Finland, Toronto, LA, San Francisco, Seattle and Alaska. Other works include an 18-minute video titled “Alaxsxaq,” an exhibit titled “View from Up Here” and video projects with the Smithsonian Arctic Studies Center and Burke Museum

Kairaiuak is a Yup’ik artist from Chefornak, Alaska, with a love for storytelling through various mediums. As a member of the world-renowned indigenous music group Pamyua, Kairaiuak has shared Alaska Native culture on an international stage. He is the composer of many of Pamyua’s songs, and has written short plays about aspects of Alaska Native culture. He’s currently writing a feature-length fictional movie script to be spoken entirely in Yup’ik.

Hoover and Kairaiuak were selected as the finalists out of a pool of nearly 20 applicants. GCI and the Walter Kaitz Foundation hope to continue this unique partnership in future years to underscore the significance of diversity and inclusion in content creation across the broad embrace of the industry.

“The Hollywood Creative Forum is exactly where these content creators need to be and we are thrilled to be able to work with GCI to create this opportunity,” said David Porter, executive director of the Walter Kaitz Foundation. “We were impressed with the wide range of Alaska Native talent. The forum will provide the artists with a better understanding of how to navigate a competitive industry and will also reinforce to producers and network executives that there is great interest in projects about Alaska Natives and their culture.” 


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