Salmonberries (1991): Percy Adlon’s Tale of Friendship, Starring Singer k.d. lang

Percy Adlon directed Salmonberries, an original if awkwardly stilted drama, written by Adlon and his son Felix Adlon, and starring singer k.d. lang in her screen debut.


lang had asked Adlon to direct a music video for her, (“So in Love” for the AIDS-benefit Red Hot + Blue compilation album), he wrote the script of “Salmonberries” especially for her.

Lang plays Kotzebue, an orphaned Eskimo of androgynous appearance who works as a (male) miner in Alaska, who befriends Rosel Zech as Roswitha, an East German exiled and widowed librarian.

The film takes place in Kotzebue, Alaska and Berlin, Germany, shortly after reunification; the dialog is mostly English but includes some German with English subtitles.

Exploring issues of cultural collision and sexual identity, the film depicts an ambiguous relationship on the edge of becoming a lesbian bond.

The film’s title derives from the endless jars of preserved berries on the walls of Roswitha’s bedroom.

Singer k.d. lang performs an evocative ballad, “Barefoot,” in co-written by her and Bob Telson.

Straining to be a genuine art work, the feature relies on sharp camera angles and arty editing.”

The tale is slight, and it is the quirky tone and naturally warm performances of the German actors that contribute to its distinction.

Oscar Kawagley as Butch
Rosel Zech as Roswitha
k.d. lang as Kotzebue
Eugene Omiak as Gvy
Wayne Waterman as Ronnie
Jane Lind as Noayak
Chuck Connors as Bingo Chuck
Alvira H. Downey as Izzy
Wolfgang Steinberg as Albert
Christel Merian as Albert’s wife
George Barril as Bingo attendant
Gary Albers as Tight rope walker


Directed by Percy Adlon
Produced by Eleonore Adlon, Jamie Beardsley, Beverly J. Graf

Written by Percy Adlon and Felix AdlonMusic by Bob Telson
Cinematography Tom Sigel
Edited by Conrad M. Gonzalez
Release date: 1991

Running time: 95 minutes