December 16, 2019


Catharine Axley

The inspiring and little-known story of legendary Alaska Native dogsled racer George Attla.


About the Documentary

ATTLA tells the gripping but little-known story of George Attla, a charismatic Alaska Native dogsled racer who, with one good leg and fierce determination, became a legendary sports hero in Northern communities around the world. Part dog whisperer, part canny businessman and part heartthrob, Attla rose to international fame during a unique period of history when Western education, economies, and culture penetrated the Alaskan village lifestyle and forever changed the state with the discovery of oil in the late 1960s. 

ATTLA weaves George’s remarkable underdog story with the final chapter of his life, as he emerges from retirement to mentor his twenty-year-old grandnephew, Joe Bifelt, who takes a break from college to train with his uncle. With their sights set on reviving proud cultural traditions, the pair embark on a journey to compete in one of the world’s largest dogsled sprint races, one that has seen a steep decline in Native competitors. 

The Filmmakers

Catharine Axley

Catharine Axley is a documentary filmmaker and editor who seeks stories of empowerment through subjects that defy expectations. Her films have played at festivals including the San Francisco International Film Festival, DOC NYC, Harlem International Film Festival, and the United Nations Association Film Festival. She was a Regional Finalist for the 2014 Student Academy Awards and an official nominee for the David L. Wolper Award at the 2015 International Documentary Association Awards. She holds an M.F.A. from Stanford University and a B.A. in History and Ethnicity, Race & Migration from Yale University. She is currently a Filmmaker-in-Residence at the University of Kentucky. 

Full Credits


  • American Indian Film Festival

    Best Documentary

  • BendFilm Festival

    Best Indigenous Feature

  • Anchorage International FIlm Festival

    Made in Alaska Documentary Feature & Audience Choice Award

Learn more about the documentary

Join the Discussion

Did you know anything about George Attla before seeing this film? What are some of your other favorite real-life underdog stories, people in sports or elsewhere triumphing against all odds?