The Project

Documentary feature - work in progress

Believe it or not, the recent US elections are not the end of the world. Thanks to Donald Trump’s wacky infatuation with Vladimir Putin, the USA and Russia might be coming together at last. The real heroes of this hopeful new era are not called Donald and Vladimir, however, but George and Joe. For the past twenty-five years, 74-year-old retired tunnel engineer George Koumal and his jovial sidekick, 83-year-old Alaskan lawyer Joe Henri have been traveling the globe, lobbying for the ultimate anti-war weapon: a tunnel connecting the USA and Russia across the Bering Strait. Luminaries as diverse as Abraham Lincoln, Czar Nicholas II and Joseph Stalin all proposed re-connecting Asia and North America for the first time since the Bering Strait land bridge disappeared 4000 years ago, but wars and technological shortcomings prevented their visions from becoming reality. Now with advanced technologies, a rapidly melting Arctic, and a feverish struggle to satisfy rising energy needs and consumer demands, this centuries-old project is gaining new steam.

The $80 billion tunnel and transcontinental railroad would revolutionise global transportation and provide the vital infrastructure for tapping the Arctic’s vast natural resources. For decades, the economic and political challenges seemed overwhelming. But with Donald and Vladimir now at the helm, a tunnel with two happy ends might unexpectedly become reality and not just George and Joe’s Quixotic dream.

Bering Strait Tunnel Presentation from SOPS

Video presented by SOPS* for the Shanghai World Expo 2010, where it won the Grand Prize for Innovation. * Russia's Council for the Study of Productive Forces, a joint institution of the Russian Academy of Sciences and the Russian Ministry of Economic Development

GALLERY

Rick Minnich - Writer/Director

Rick Minnich is an American independent filmmaker based in Berlin, Germany. At age 12, he began making Super 8 films of his baby brother Ben, and has been making films ever since. Minnich holds a B.A. in English from Columbia University and an MFA equivalent in film directing from the Film University "Konrad Wolf" in Potsdam-Babelsberg. Rick Minnich’s films have screened at film festivals, in theatres and on television on every continent except Antarctica.

Visit him at www.rickfilms.de.

Selected Filmography
  • HEAVEN ON EARTH - 2001 (50’) - IDFA, Fipa d'Or Biarritz

  • HOMEMADE HILLBILLY JAM - 2005 (80’) - HotDocs, opening night film Hot Springs 2005, closing night film True/False 2006

  • FORGETTING DAD - 2008 (84’) - IDFA - Special Jury Award, True/False, Full Frame, Hot Docs, Grand Jury Prize at GZ DOC in Guangzhou, shortlisted for the German Film Award 'Lola'

  • THE BOMB HUNTERS - 2015 (52’)

THE STRAIT GUYS

a HANFGARN & UFER production

in coproduction with ethnofund.com 

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