WEEKEND HANGOUT – Gina Lusher, foreground right, and other Sitka Cirque aerialists rehearse Thursday night for this weekend’s show, Cirque Noir, at the 207 Smith Street studio. The show includes cage dancers, live music and champagne. Kids from first grade through high school will have a separate fundraiser showcase event Saturday afternoon from 1:30 to 3 p.m. Tickets for both shows are available online at sitkacirque.com. (Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

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Daily Sitka Sentinel

Film Reviews Sitka's '22 Cruise Season, Seeks Input


Sentinel Staff Writer

On the heels of Sitka’s busiest tourist season, a film that explores opinions on and impacts of cruise ship tourism on the town will premiere Sunday afternoon. The year’s last large cruise ship departed in late September, closing out a season in which a record shattering 383,000 cruise passengers visited Sitka.

The hour-long film “Cruise Boom” documents a variety of perspectives on the impacts of cruise tourism in Sitka and includes footage from Assembly meetings and interviews with stakeholders, but co-director Ellen Frankenstein hopes the film inspires questions more than it provides answers.

“The film doesn’t make any conclusions,” Frankenstein said in an interview. “It’s sort of like, ‘Wow, this is like industrial tourism.’ And I think the thing is that there’s an element in the film asking a lot about how much the community actually gets from this, and how can we get as much as possible out of being a place people visit?

Atman Mehta, left, and Ellen Frankenstein film footage for their documentary. (Photo/ artchangeinc.org)

“I really want to encourage conversations about what type of tourism people want in the community, how they shape it and interact with it.”

She said the film at present is a work in progress.

“We’re not going to go back to the drawing board and start again, but it’s important on the local level that we inspire some more conversations and have people kind of think about what is good for the community, what do they value in the community,” Frankenstein said.

Along with Sunday’s showing, Sitkans will have an opportunity to provide feedback on the film, either on paper forms at the premiere or online.

Frankenstein wants to know “what thoughts are evoked about Sitka and your sense of this place and why you live here? What are your concerns and hopes for tourism here? How can the film be useful to the community?”

“Cruise Boom” stands out from Frankenstein’s other films because the topic is relatively light. She’s covered issues from domestic violence to executions, but unlike those situations, cruise tourists tend to be having an enjoyable experience.

“The people visiting and traveling, They’re having a good time… Even though this film raises a lot of questions, and we want to stimulate discussion, it also feels important to show a little bit of the joy that people have when they get to see Alaska and they get to see Sitka,” she said.

“Cruise Boom” co-director Atman Mehta said he hopes “Cruise Boom” offers a wide range of perspectives and fuels conversations.

“Our intention and our hope with the film, within the limits of feasibility, was to have it be as kaleidoscopic as possible and capture many perspectives,” Mehta said over the phone. “Especially with something as potentially transformative as having half a million cruise tourists disembark in Sitka… we wanted to explore as many of those as possible: social, cultural, economic, political. Hopefully in the film, you see a lot of these perspectives.”

In the process of making the film, Mehta was surprised by some of what he learned about the economics of the cruise industry.

“I’m really interested in economics at large,” he said. “The cruise industry is incredibly consolidated. It’s one of the most profitable industries and also, it’s very lightly taxed.”

The film has given Frankenstein a newfound appreciation for the amount of work that went on behind the scenes in Sitka before the first ship moored at the Sitka Sound Cruise Terminal in the spring.

“The people in the city, how much they really care about the community and how many people at the Assembly and the Planning Commission were trying to make tourism a good experience for the people who live here, as well as the visitors… I’ve gained a great respect for the public process and the work the city has done to try to prepare for the growth in tourism and taking care of the community,” she said.

“Ending this film is really hard,” she said. “This film doesn’t really have an end, because we don’t know what’s next.”

It shows only one hour of the 30 hours actually filmed in the making, she said.

“‘Cruise Boom’ was filmed over 14 months with the participation of countless individuals, locations, businesses and organizations,” she said. “The filmmakers want to note their appreciation for all the support of the community in that process.”

Frankenstein runs the non-profit organization ArtChange Inc., which is also the umbrella for Sitka Cabaret, Sitka Tells Tales and the radio show, “Our Grandparents’ Teachings.”

“Cruise Boom” premieres at 4:30 p.m. Sunday at the Coliseum Theater on Lincoln Street. Tickets cost $9 and are available at Old Harbor Books or at the door.

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At a Glance

(updated 9-12-2023)

By Sentinel Staff

The state Department of Health and Social Services has posted the following update on the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Alaska as of 8:57 a.m. Tuesday, September 12.

New cases as of Tuesday: 278

Total cases (cumulative) statewide – 301,513

Total (cumulative) deaths – 1,485

Case Rate per 100,000 – 38.14

To visit the Alaska DHSS Corona Response dashboard website click here.

COVID in Sitka

The Sitka community level is now "Low.'' Case statistics are as of Tuesday.

Case Rate/100,000 – 152.50

Cases in last 7 days – 13

Cumulative Sitka cases – 3,575

Deceased (cumulative) – 10

The local case data are from Alaska DHSS.






December 2003

The Sawmill Cove Industrial Park board of directors endorsed a final contract tuesday for the city to sell a minimum of 40 million gallons of reservoir water per year to an export company based in New York City. ... under the contract Quest would have the right to purchase up to 1 billion gallons of water per year at 1 cent per gallon



December 1973

 The City and Borough of Sitka conducted a community public opinion poll evaluating municipal services and facilities. ... The overall results gave this priority order: 1. roads and highways; 2. water and sewer; 3. downtown parking; 4. garbage collection and disposal; 5. hospital and medical facilities; 6. planning and zoning; 7. boat harbors.


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