Joan Juster & Paul Hill, "Alaska Far Away"

Joan Juster & Paul Hill, "Alaska Far Away"

Premiere date: Apr 14, 2011

In the midst of the despair of the Great Depression, Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal gave 202 struggling Midwestern farm families an extraordinary opportunity: a chance to start over in a far-away Alaska. Alaska Far Away tells the story of this bold government experiment, and the families who found themselves thrust into the national spotlight along the way.

It generated a whirlwind of publicity and controversy at the time, not only as a federally-funded social experiment, but also as one of the last pioneer movements in America.

The Matanuska Colony isn't just a fascinating footnote to the history of Alaska. It encompasses the despair of the Depression, the creative energy of the New Deal, the adventure of pioneering in Alaska, and the best and worst of our government and ordinary citizens in facing those extraordinary challenges.


Paul Hill | Co-Producer

Co-producer Paul Hill works as a Visual Effects Producer in the Bay Area. He spent almost two decades with Industrial Light + Magic, where he not only produced live action and visual effects for scores of award-winning commercials, but also contributed to feature films including "Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith" and the 3-D version of Disney's "Chicken Little." He also produced visual effects for the restoration for DVD of "THX-1138 – The Director's Cut," and for Will Smith's Grammy-award winning music video, "Will2K."

Paul has also produced visual effects for feature films including "Beverly Hills Chihuahua" and "Drag Me to Hell" with Tippett Studios. He currently produces visual effects for Eveo, a company that provides digital marketing for the pharmaceutical, biotech and medical device industries. In addition to his commercial work, Paul donates his time and skills as a community volunteer and fundraiser, producing public service announcements for non-profits and creating successful fundraising campaigns, including initiating the annual company-wide Trivia Night at ILM that supports local charities.

Paul was raised in Arlington, Virginia, and received his B.A . in English from the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. He has lived in San Francisco for over 30 years.


Joan Juster | Co-Producer

Co-producer Joan Juster left her native Santa Clara just as it was becoming Silicon Valley, first to get her B.A. in English Literature at the University of California at Santa Cruz, and then to settle in San Francisco, where she has lived and worked for over 30 years.  She is a fixture in the local non-profit community, working first in arts administration, and then in fundraising and grassroots community organizing for AIDS, breast cancer and programs fighting poverty and social injustice.

As the Special Projects Coordinator for the San Francisco Opera Center, Joan ran the national auditions and artist services for the Opera's young artist programs, which led to a decade working as personal assistant to an opera conductor with an international performing career. While at the American Conservatory Theatre she worked in production management, including creating a successful technical apprenticeship program. She also learned producing while working in many small theatres and cabarets in San Francisco, including managing a two-year hit production of "Side By Side By Sondheim" at the legendary Plush Room Cabaret, and working closely with friend and mentor Tom Lehrer on the San Francisco production of "Tomfoolery." Her first venture into the local film community was as House Manager for the San Francisco International Film Festival for ten years.


Joint Bio: Juster Hill Productions

Paul Hill and Joan Juster met in San Francisco in 1989 while volunteering for the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt. Together they coordinated readers for major displays of the Quilt in Washington D.C. and San Francisco for several years.

In 1994 they flew to Alaska for an adventure, and to visit a mutual friend, Jim Fox, who lived in the small town of Palmer. Jim introduced them not only to the story of the Matanuska Colony, but also to his grandmother Irene Benson, who was one of the original colonists. The visit convinced them that the story of the Matanuska Colony had national significance, and should be told in a documentary film. Within days of returning to San Francisco, t

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