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‘Alaskan Nets’: A basketball documentary highlighting basketball culture and life in Metlakatla

Published: Apr. 1, 2021 at 9:44 AM AKDT|Updated: Apr. 1, 2021 at 9:48 AM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Alaska and all its last frontier wonder has made the state a prime location for content in nearly every form. In the past decade, we’ve seen reality shows, travel shows, animated shows, a mix of movies and documentaries and yet it seems that interest is only growing. A new documentary, “Alaskan Nets”, set to debut this weekend at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival is just the latest offering.

The focus of this particular documentary will expose the outside world to something Alaskans already know, the 49th state is basketball crazy, especially in the villages. This is why first-time director Jeff Harasimowicz chose to follow around the 2017-2018 Metlakatla boys basketball team for a season.

“When I found the story, I pitched it to everyone I knew and they were like that sounds amazing but documentaries are risky. What if nothing materializes? They were like you’re going to have to do it yourself. So literally, I bought a camera, started training, and then I found this company that ended up taking the plunge with me on it but we just went all in,” says Harasimowicz.

More accustomed to a producer role with projects such as “Ultimate Rush” and recently HBO’s “Raised By Wolves,” with this project Harasimowicz hopes to show how hoops culture, native culture and even fishing culture coexist for those in Southeast Alaska.

“There obviously are many other native communities, many other fishing communities, there are hundreds if not thousands of basketball communities across the state of Alaska. So while this is the story of Metlakatla, this really is the story of so much of Alaska in general,” says Harasimowicz.

Drawing a bit of extra attention to this project is Hollywood A-lister Chris Pratt. The star of “Guardians of the Galaxy”, “Jurassic World” and more is a producer on the film.

In a recent Facebook post, Pratt informed fans that he used to live in Alaska. The first paragraph of his post reading, “Some people might not know this, but I spent a good chunk of my childhood living in Alaska. My dad worked in the gold mines in Kenai. Our babysitter Rose was Native Alaskan and her three sons were my best friends.”

Pratt would add, “It is a story of hope. One which shines a light on an extraordinary group of kids, and illuminates a corner of the world that otherwise might not be seen.”

While “Alaskan Nets” will debut Saturday at the SBIFF, you at home may not be able to see it for a while. Both the physical tickets and virtual passes to the film festival are sold out and it is still unclear as to where the documentary will end up once it’s made its way through the festival circuit.

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