By Abby Hancock and Chris Klint
Channel 2 News
7:02 PM AKST, January 25, 2012
“Big Miracle,” a film based on the 1988 international rescue of whales trapped under ice near Barrow, held its world premiere Wednesday in Washington, D.C. The event drew figures from the original crisis as well as A-list actors from the film, which was shot in Alaska.
While Hollywood stars like Drew Barrymore and Vinessa Shaw made it to the event, Alaska played a large role in the premiere -- just as it did in the production of the film.
Many Alaskans have probably seen the film’s trailer, or even remember the original whale rescue in 1988. But before the story hits theaters across the country next month, its first showing was at an AMC theater in the nation’s capital.
Barrymore and Shaw, two major stars of the film, spent weeks in Anchorage and Barrow. Both say they had good memories from their visit to the Last Frontier.
“Going to hot yoga, and coming outside all sweaty into the crispy cold snow, and then going to the Bear Tooth Theater for a pitcher of beer and watching a great flick,” Barrymore said.
Alongside the familiar faces is a fresh one: 11-year-old Ahmaogak Sweeney makes his acting debut in the film, which he says he enjoyed making with its cast and crew.
“Going on set every day and being with all the nice people,” Sweeney said.
It's also a first visit for the young Alaskan to the red carpet. His family -- including father Kevin Sweeney, the campaign manager for Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s successful 2010 bid to retain her seat -- stood alongside him.
Both those on-screen and those off-camera say they hope the movie, which depicts the U.S. and the Soviet Union conducting a joint rescue effort in the closing years of the Cold War, sends a more powerful message.
“People didn't see eye-to-eye or didn't agree, but they were able to put those aside for a moment and work toward a common goal,” Barrymore said. “And that is such a wonderful thing in this world, whenever it happens.”
It's one of the reasons that made this true story worth re-creating for the silver screen.
Bonnie Carroll, the Reagan Administration aide charged with overseeing the rescue for the White House, was a guest at the premiere, as were Murkowski and fellow Sen. Mark Begich.
Everyone can see the movie when it comes out in theaters on Feb. 3, a week from Friday.
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