Inspiration Found in a Remote, Lonely Place

Women find inspiration in each other and their work in Director/Writer Erin Sanger’s documentary Leaders of the Pack.

Inspiration is a strong word for a powerful feeling. It’s a word that has been attached to great historical figures or grand, almost otherworldly moments and events, but as a society today, we use it too much and use it too lightly, almost to the point that it has lost its potency. But, that doesn’t mean we’ve lost the meaning of the word or it can’t be found anymore. As Leaders of the Pack touchingly documents, it can be found right in front of your nose and you may not even know of it or the person from which it came. It can be found in the lives of everyday people, living in some of the most extreme conditions, such as Alaska during the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.

Leaders of the Pack follows National Geographic photographer Katie Orlinksy, whose work throws a spotlight on the daily lives of people in some of the most remote and extreme conditions or locations of the world. In this documentary her subject is Kristin Knight who is training for the 2016 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. However, they are both the subjects of Erin Sanger, the documentarian. This is a film that follows two people from completely different parts of the globe, but who have found inspiration in each other and their work. Both of their lives are documented, from when each woman first came in contact with their respective callings and up to the moment where the 2016 Iditarod starts, where both of them are living their passions. It’s an inspirational and human story about two amazingly ordinary women.

This is an excellent documentary short film. The two subjects, Katie Orlinksy and Kristin Knight, are both open and relatable people that by the film’s end we are cheering for the both of them as they continue their adventures. The best parts of this film were when they were interacting with each other. During these scenes we witness two women doing what they love and we can see their lives become fulfilled right on screen. This a documentary that is as intimate in its wide shots as it is in its close-ups. It is a story that gives credence to the idea or goal of chasing and accomplishing your dreams, to reach for the stars instead of settling on the clouds. I also applaud Erin Sanger, the director of the documentary, for incorporating photos by Katie Orlinsky from the days of the shoot. Every shot in this documentary, whether it was moving or a still, said so much. It was a visual, intimate and inspirational experience that was so full of life that the snow on screen started to melt. Everything in this film was beautiful.

If I were forced to give a one-word review for Leaders of the Pack, that one, single, lone word would be: Inspiring. Yes, we throw that word (among several others) around a lot today. We use it more lightly then we should and I myself try my best to keep it reserved for its proper use. But, Leaders of the Pack is a perfect example of when the word “inspiring” should be used.

Dan Nelsen

Dan is a graduate of Kent State University, where he graduated Summa Cum Laude with Honors. He holds a degree in Media Production. He is currently a freelance videographer and video editor.

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