Watching ice melt may not sound that exciting, but director Tim Kaminski makes it so in this heartwarming documentary.
For a century, the townspeople of Nenana, Alaska, have celebrated the Ice Classic, an annual contest in which participants place bets on the arrival of spring. Wagers come in from around the world to make for prizes of up to $350,000. Started in 1917 by railroad surveyors, the Ice Classic is a source of pride and much-needed employment for this often forgotten community.
Nenana’s 450 residents take great care to uphold their tradition. The first step is to cut fresh timber and build a massive tripod, which is set into the frozen river in January. Cables are attached and rigged to a rope-and-pulley system complete with wires, barrels, and a meat cleaver that ultimately trigger an antique clock; this odd contraption determines the exact moment that the tripod has traveled 100 feet downriver.
In February, two Ice Classic employees drive 2,500 miles across Alaska to deliver tickets for sale to shops, bars, and gas stations; by April, contest entries predicting the exact day, hour, and minute the tripod will hit its mark have begun pouring in. Ice Classic staff and volunteers use outdated filing systems and antiquated computers to tabulate the results. As the weather warms, the anticipation builds, and fierce competitors come to Nenana to wait for the ice to melt.
Tim Kaminski will be in attendance
Sponsored by CFVA, Colorado Office of Film, Television & Media
Producer: Tim Kaminski | Editor: Dave Wruck | Cinematographer: Zack Armstrong