Alaska Far Away: The New Deal Pioneers of the Matanuska Colony 

Election news has sharpened the relevance of this sturdy doc about a one-fell-swoop settlement of Depression-era Alaska. Turns out, the state's confounding philosophy of individualism on the government dole started when a New Deal program shipped 202 Midwestern farm families way up north to farm land that wasn't particularly farmable. Directors Paul Hill and Joan Juster tell an engaging story of hardship and grit through interviews, diaries, letters, newsreels and remarkable footage of laborers, lumberjacks, church services and everyday life. Watching a tent camp race to grow into a town before the winter hits, historically minded viewers should be swept up. This last shove westward, though something of an asterisk to Manifest Destiny, stands as the only great American migration to occur in the age of the mass-market moving image. As such, it's a rare opportunity to witness that all-in homes­teading spirit but also to discover the humanity beneath it, especially in all the angry letters these pioneers fire off to a government that promised more than it could give. Screens at 7:20 p.m. Sunday, September 21, as part of the Kansas International Film Festival. See the schedule at kansasfilm.com. All shows are at the Glenwood Arts Theatre, 9575 Metcalf in Overland Park, 913-642-4404.

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