PBS 'Frontline' looks at Pebble mine battle

July 24, 2012 

Telluride filmmakers Travis Rummel, left, and Ben Knight


"Alaska Gold," a PBS documentary premiering tonight on "Frontline," got its start in a much-heralded 2008 indie documentary "Red Gold," which helped raise to national and international awareness the battle over the proposed Pebble mine in the Bristol Bay watershed. In 2007, the "Red Gold" filmmakers, Ben Knight and Travis Rummel of Colorado, told the Anchorage Daily News they intended to present a balanced look at the issue, though they admitted their personal opposition to Pebble and took funding from opponents. But the filmmakers recently told the Telluride Daily Planet that PBS demanded much more work of them during the making of "Alaska Gold," eventually took over all of the editing and provided completely new narration.

"Frontline" sent Knight and Rummel back to Alaska three times to film more footage, and originally hired the pair to re-edit the film for PBS. After realizing that [their production company] Felt Soul had been funded in part by nonprofits opposed to the mine, however, "Frontline" decided to take up the editing itself.

Knight said that it wasn't hard for Felt Soul to walk away from the edit of "Alaska Gold" because they knew that getting it on "Frontline" is an excellent way to get it in front of Americans.

"I knew that was best for the film," he said.

Read more in the Telluride Daily Planet. Daily News coverage of the Pebble mine debate is here.

Here's a preview:

Watch Alaska Gold Preview on PBS. See more from FRONTLINE.

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