On many textbook maps of the world, the United States and Russia seem to be on opposite sides of the planet. But Berlin-based filmmaker Rick Minnich was always fascinated by the fact that the two countries are, in reality, neighbors. At their closest, the two giant nations are separated by just three kilometers of the Bering Strait between the Big Diomede Island, belonging to Russia, and Alaska’s Little Diomede.
Minnich recently visited Little Diomede while researching and collecting footage for “The Strait Guys,” a documentary on retired American tunnel engineer George Koumal, Alaskan lawyer Joe Henri and Russian engineer Victor Razbegin. For almost three decades they have been pursuing their dream: a tunnel that connects the U.S. and Russia across the Bering Strait, effectively linking three quarters of the planet by rail.
Despite international interest, it has yet to be seen if the 80 billion dollar project can move forward in the current political climate. While the project is “absolutely realistic” from the technical, financial, and efficiency point of view, according to Razbegin, “political decisions” will ultimately determine its future.
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