The Project

feature documentary

4K, 99 min., Color, English and Russian with English or German subtitles

A 76-year old engineer is on a mission: to connect the United States and Russia with a 100-kilometer long train tunnel beneath the Bering Strait. 

Twelve years in the making, THE STRAIT GUYS follows Czech-born mining engineer, George, and his fast-talking protégé, Scott, along the proposed route of the InterContinental Railway through Alaska, to the Bering Strait and onward to Russia. The “Strait Guys” endeavor to convince international governments, corporations, and indigenous tribes to green-light their $100 billion railway project—with the promise to become the Panama Canal of the 21st century. 

 As they struggle to keep their monumental vision alive in the face of seemingly insurmountable obstacles, the Strait Guys leave us wondering: What is really preventing the US and Russia from being connected? 

 Since Russia’s attack on Ukraine, the tunnel plan certainly seems absurd. Yet the Strait Guys are more convinced than ever that their mega-project is exactly what the world needs to finally leave wars behind and create “peace, progress and prosperity” for all.


"An extraordinary film. Visionary, inspirational and filled with hope for a more connected world."

Lynne Cox, world record-holding endurance swimmer who swam across the Bering Strait from the US to the USSR in 1987

"An intriguing and visually stunning film that blends geopolitics, economics, and technology but keeps people at the center of its story. The Strait Guys follows one man's dream of a tunnel under the Bering Strait, while also introducing a wide range of other compelling figures, from boosters and small-town majors to Kremlin operatives and local Alaskan communities. The film shows at once the attraction of thinking big and the costs of doing so. An emotionally compelling achievement."

Paul W. Werth, Professor, University of Nevada, Las Vegas

"What distinguishes a visionary from a dreamer? The Strait Guys poses that question in a surprising documentary about a 76-year-old Czech mining engineer and his fast-talking protege as they pursue their mission to connect Russia and the United States by building a 100 kilometer train tunnel beneath the Bering Strait. At a time when Russia and the U.S. are more hostile to each other since the Cuban Missile Crisis, and climate change threatens the entire globe, and particularly the Artic, this film could not be more timely.”

Mark Jonathan Harris, Oscar-winning director (“Into the Arms of Strangers: Stories of the Kindertransport”, “The Long Way Home”)

When most people visualize a messenger of peace, they likely picture a white dove. Almost never do they imagine an opportunity for peace carried forward by a cantankerous, chain-smoking engineer obsessed with connecting the world through a transnational rail project. The Strait Guys fit beautifully within the Global Peace Film Festival programming mission to spread models of peace especially because the film provided a portrait of peacemaking embodied by the most unlikely messenger. The film reminds each of us to reach for every chance to connect people to one another and to share our world together.

Kelly DeVine, Artistic Director,Global Peace Film Festival,

Villa Aurora presented “The Strait Guys” at a sold-out event. The film engaged the audience from the start, leading to a lively discussion with the filmmaker about the protagonists’ pursuit of “peace, progress, and prosperity”, the cost to the individuals, and the necessity of attempting the impossible to further an exchange between nations.

Dr. Claudia Gordon, Director Villa Aurora and Thomas Mann House, Pacific Palisades, California

“I highly recommend reaching out to Rick if you have any interest to bring the real documentary filmmaking world to your classroom students.”

Brian Sisselman, Adjunct Professor School of Film and Television, Loyola Marymount University

“We all need to know one another and see each other as friends and co-inhabitants of this beautiful planet, not as enemies. What a massive, ambitious and visionary project. We need a transformation in discovering we are all brothers and sisters! A train could help bring the people of the US and Russia and the world closer together, but somehow we need to pressure our governments. This train could help facilitate communication, travel, visits and trade.”

David Hartsough, co-founder of World Beyond War and author of WAGING PEACE: Global Adventures of a Lifelong Activist



"Minnich turns a boring diplomatic trip into an exciting political thriller…one with a potentially happy ending."

Radio interview with director Rick Minnich

Interview with director Rick Minnich
and “Strait Guy” Scott Spencer

Interview with director Rick Minnich

Discussion with director Rick Minnich.
Also on Apple Podcasts and Spotify

Interview with tutor Rick Minnich

"An intense and touching film about dreams."

" ... ein bloßer Traum oder ein reales Menschheitsprojekt?"

"... ein menschliches Werk voller Herzblut."

" 5-page interview and portrait of director Rick Minnich
(download English translation here)"



Would your organization like to host a virtual or in-person event with “The Strait Guys”?

Then please complete this screening request form. Our team will get back to you with a quote within a few days.

Screenings with the film team in Germany:

Keller Revue

Brecht Haus Berlin, January 25, 2024
19:30 Uhr

Kinobar Prager Frühling

Leipzig, April 16, 2023
17:00 Uhr

Kulturgasthof “Alte Reederei”

Fürstenberg/Havel, April 21, 2023
19:00 Uhr

Kulturhaus Heidekrug 2.0

Joachimsthal, Sept. 16, 2022


Potsdam, Sept. 18, 2022
10:30 a.m.

Kino Babylon

Berlin, June 2, 2022

Kino Moviemento

Berlin, June 3, 2022

Kino Krokodil

Berlin, June 8, 2022
Latest screening dates and locations at

TV broadcasts


Germany, January 28, 2024:
23:05 Uhr

ARD Mediathek

Jan. 26 - Feb. 5, 2024

Knowledge Network

Canada, Nov. 29, 2022


Creative Team

Rick Minnich - Writer/Director

Rick Minnich is an American independent filmmaker based in Berlin, Germany. 

He holds a B.A. in English from Columbia University and an MFA equivalent in film directing from the Film University Babelsberg "Konrad Wolf” in Germany. Rick Minnich has been writing, directing and producing shorts and feature documentaries since 1993 through his companies Rickfilms and Our Man in Berlin and in association with various German broadcasters, film funds, and production companies. 

His award-winning films include: 

HEAVEN ON EARTH (50 min., 2001, IDFA, Fipa d'Or Biarritz)

HOMEMADE HILLBILLY JAM (80 min, 2005, Premiere at HotDocs, closing night film True/False 2006, distributed by First Run Features)

FORGETTING DAD (84 min, 2008, Premiere: IDFA - Special Jury Award, True/False, Full Frame, Hot Docs, Grand Jury Prize at GZ DOC in Guangzhou, China, Shortlisted for the German Film Award 'Lola' - German Oscar)

THE BOMB HUNTERS (52 min., 2015)

Currently he is working on the feature documentary THE PRESIDENTS’ TAILOR (about Holocaust survivor and presidential tailor Martin Greenfield) and the documentary series THE BIG THAW (about four atmospheric scientists investigating the impact of thawing permafrost in Arctic Alaska).

Visit him at

Matt Sweetwood - Co-Writer/Editor

After earning a BA at UMKC and California State University San Diego, Television and Film Department in 1990, Matt worked as a writer, director, assistant director and production manager on various independent projects in San Diego and L.A. In 1995 he moved to Berlin, Germany, where he started a career as a writer for fiction and documentary with the agency Verlag der Autoren.

His documentaries include

Homemade Hillbilly Jam (Dir. Rick Minnich, 2005, co-writer and editor)

Forgetting Dad with Rick Minnich (2008, co-director and editor)

Beerland (2013, writer/director)

The Beer Jesus from America (2019, writer/director/producer). Matt Sweetwood owns and operates Sweetwood Films (UG) in Potsdam, Germany.

Visit him at

Lutz Reitemeier - Director of Photography (USA/Germany)

Born in Stuttgart, Germany in 1963. Worked as a camera assistant for many years in both feature and documentary films for some of the top German directors including Werner Herzog and Roland Emmerich before becoming a director of photography in 1994.

One of his earliest works is Die Überlebenden (The Survivors) from acclaimed German director Andres Veiel. Since 1998, Reitemeier has shot numerous films in China, including Wang Quan’an’s Berlinale winner “Tuya’s Wedding” (2007) and Berlinale opening night film and Silver Bear winner “Tuan Yuan” (2010).

In 2012, Reitemeier received the Silver Bear for his outstanding cinematography on Wang Quan’an’s “Bai lu yuan” (White Deer Plain).

Lutz Reitemeier is a member of the German Society of Cinematographers, the German Film Academy, and the German Documentary Association / AGDOK.

Sergei Amirdzhanov - Director of Photography (Russia)

Born in Moscow, Russia in 1986. Graduated from the Russian National Film School VGIK in 2008. Member of the Russian Documentary Guild. Sergei Amirdzhanov has shot more than 40 short, mid-length and feature-length documentaries, including:

Women of the Gulag (Dir. Marianna Yarovskaya, 2018)

Sanatorium (Dir. Mariya Osipov, 2018)

Faith, Love, Hope (Dir. Katja Fedulova, 2017)

Zemlyaki (Dir. Pavel Mirzoev, 2014)

Jonathan Skorupa - Sound Recordist (USA/Germany)

Born in Leipzig, Germany in 1986. After completing his apprenticeship in 2011, Jonathan Skorupa worked for various television production companies before becoming a freelance sound recordist.

He has worked on numerous fiction and non-fiction films, including

Landrauschen (Max Ophüls Award 2018 for best script),

LIEBESFILM (“Love Film”)

Der Krieg und ich (“The War and I” - winner of Golden Sparrow award 2018).

This Kind of Hope (AT) (work-in-progress)

Vertreibung - Odsun. Das Sudetenland (Deutsch-Tschechischer Journalistenpreis 2021)

Sorin Apostel - Sound Recordist (Russia)

Sorin Apostol is a sound designer, sound engineer, composer, musician. He manages and creates all stages of sound design from sound recording to post-production of documentary films, final mixing, mastering of audio products, arrangement and composition.

He was born in 1978 in the city of Kishinev, USSR. Lives in Moscow. Married. Sorin obtained a Master’s degree from The Academy of Arts. He collaborates with the Foundation for Ethnographic Research, The Ministry of Culture of Russia, Gorky Film Studio, the companies “zero one films GmbH", "WDR", "ARTE", "ZDF”, "Al Jazeera International", Netflix.

He has worked with the directors Louie Psihoyos, Rick Minnich, Askold Kurov, Sergei Miroshnichenko, among others.

Lukas Sweetwood - composer (Germany)

Lukas Sweetwood is a video and music producer living in Potsdam, Germany. He started composing for theater and film in 2016, and has since written music for two documentary films, (“The Beer Jesus” - 2019) and “The Strait Guys (2022)”, and for many international theater projects in collaboration with OKEV Potsdam.

Geoffrey Smith - Story Consultant

Geoffrey Smith is a double Emmy award-winning director who was at the BBC in London for over 13 years. He has made 24 films for all the major UK broadcasters, won over 40 International awards, was listed in the 2009 NY Times Best Films list for the “The English Surgeon”, and his last two feature documentaries have sold widely, had theatrical releases, and screened at hundreds of film festivals across the world.

Geoffrey is currently developing several feature documentaries and is in demand as a consultant and script editor on a wide range of international projects. He is also passionate about getting documentaries out into the wider community and for the last 5 years curated and ran the Castlemaine Documentary Film Festival in Victoria, Australia.

Gunter Hanfgarn - Producer

Born in 1959 in Düsseldorf, Germany. 1984-90 psychology studies; 1991 founded Hanfgarn + Ufer Filmproduktion with Andrea Ufer; vice-president of the AG DOK - German Documentary Association 2009-2012.

Selected filmography:

NO LAND ́S SONG (2014 Germany / France) by Ayat Najafi (nominated for the European Film Prize 2015; Audience Award & Best Documentary, Montreal World Film Festival 2014; Human Rights Watch Film Festival London/New York 2015),

MASTER OF THE UNIVERSE (2014 Germany) by Marc Bauder. European Film Prize 2014; Grand Prix Semaine de la Critique Locarno 2013; Prize of the German Film Critics 2014,

PELO MALO (2013 – Venezuela / Germany / Peru) “Golden Shell”, “SIGNIS Award” and “Sebastiane Award” San Sebastián;

DIE ARIER (2013 – Germany) by Mo Asumung. Magnolia Award – Shanghai 2014;

CALLING HEDY LAMARR (2004) Special Mention Locarno Film Festival 2004; official selection Hamptons, AFI; CINEMANIA (2002) “Best Documentary” Hamptons, official selection Locarno.

Visit him at

Holm Taddiken - Co-Producer

Holm Taddiken grew up in Bremerhaven, Germany, and completed a master’s degree in Communications and Media Studies in Leipzig.

While still a student he began producing short films and supervising film productions. Many of these short films and student productions screened at film festivals, where they won a number of prizes. After a spell in advertising at Scholz & Friends (Hamburg), Taddiken worked for the production companies Scala Productions (London), Rheinfilm (Cologne) and Tellux (Dresden), in the editorial office at Senator Entertainment, and for Looks Film & TV GmbH. In late-2004, Holm Taddiken founded his own company Neufilm GmbH. In the years that followed, he produced a number of documentaries and feature films.

Taddiken is also the owner and managing director of Cine Impuls Leipzig Fernsehproduktion GmbH, a successful service company for a wide variety of fictional and non-fictional television formats. Additionally, he is a board member of the Central Germany Producers’ Alliance (“Mitteldeutsche Produzentenverband”).

Teresa Renn - Co-Producer

Teresa Renn studied directing with Prof. Thomas Schadt at the Film Academy Baden-Württemberg in Germany.

Her graduation film “Janine F.” won the prestigious First Steps Award in 2004 and was screened in the “Perspectives on German Cinema” section of the Berlinale in 2005. The same year she founded the production company Torero Film in Berlin together with Rouven Rech.

In 2007, Renn and Rech opened a second office in Konstanz. Renn works as a writer, director and lecturer for documentary films and video installations. She has also produced or co-produced the theatrical documentaries “Adopted,” “Union for Life”, and “No Land’s Song”, which was nominated for the German Film Award.

Visit her at

Rouven Rech - Co-Producer

Rouven Rech was born in Bochum, Germany in 1973. For years, he has devoted himself to scholarly work in documentary film.

Rech studied AV Media Studies at the University of Paderborn and at the Film University Babelsberg “Konrad Wolf”, where he graduated in 2001. There he was a member of the organising team of the popular student film festival SehSüchte. From 2001-2004, Rech studied documentary film directing at the Film Academy Baden-Württemberg in Ludwigsburg. Thanks to a graduate fellowship from the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), Rech then spent a year studying at the Universidad del Cine in Buenos Aires. With the support of the Baden-Württemberg Foundation, he spent six months at the Escuela Internacional de Cine in Cuba. The Heinz-Kühn Foundation in North-Rhine Westphalia supported his three-month research trip to Egypt.

In 2005, Rech co-founded the production company Torero Film, where he works as a director and producer. His short and feature-length documentaries have won major prizes at a number of film festivals.

Visit him at

Bettina Morlock - Line Producer

Since completing her studies in film production at the Filmakademie Baden-Württemberg, Bettina Morlock has been working as a producer, production manager and line producer. 

Her debut as a producer “Teenage Response” was the opening film of the Generation section at the 2009 Berlinale. In 2021 she finished the documentaries “The Strait Guys” by Rick Minnich, “Who We Were” by Marc Bauder and and ”Behind the Headlines" by Daniel Sager.

She is currently working on “Valley of Gold” by Klaus Stern and “Burnout with John Heartfield” by Katrin Rothe, and preparing the children's documentary “Moritz spielt”, to be written and directed by Frank Marten Pfeiffer.

a production of

in association with

Supported by


a Hanfgarn & Ufer production

in co-production with CineImpuls Leipzig and Torero Film


Apostel-Paulus-Str. 6
10823 Berlin
+49 30 84 85 5000

Follow the Strait Guys