Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The IPY Film Festival

My friend Kerri has been spending time aboard the CCGS Amundsen lately, which is a research icebreaker in the Canadian arctic. I stole this picture that she took while she was on board a few weeks ago. While she does arctic research, I go to films about it.

A few weeks ago, our former classmate Christina sent me an email inviting me to attend the premiere of the International Polar Year Film Festival at Library and Archives Canada. If you still don't know, I'm a geographer, so this piqued my interest.

For those who don't know, the International Polar Year 2007-2008 ran from March 2007-March 2009 [Ya, that's right. It was a two-year year]. The third of its kind, it was designed as a collaborative international effort for conducting polar research. As a predominate polar nation, Canada put $156 million into 52 research projects to further the exploration of the north. Naturally, this included documenting things in all ways. And hey, film is a way!

Darryl and I decided to attend tonight's event, which was the first of three days for the festival. I guess it was to be expected at a film festival based on science, but it was all a little awkward. There was no clear dress code, which was amusing. Flannel shirt or suit and tie? You decide! We 'signed in' with a girl who put two ticks on a piece of paper, beside one other loner tick, due to the fact that we were not 'registered' with official names in a list... oh stragglers.

There was about half an hour of odd speeches, by some random people, the Librarian and Archivist of Canada, and the makers of the feature film. The night started off with the TV commercials promoting the festival. Odd. Next up was 10 minutes of archival footage from early arctic exploration. This was pretty cool, although it was 10 minutes of awkward silence. A little travelling music would have been nice. This was followed by 15 minutes of an Alaskan research video [which I find odd, since there is surely enough Canadian arctic footage to fill three nights]. Although I assume the purpose of that video was to show that arctic researchers come from around the globe. Even places without arctic!

The main event was the WORLD PREMIERE of Arctic Cliffhangers, which is a 52 minute film by Steve Smith and Julia Szcus [who live in the Rockies, not Edmonton]. The film looked at sea birds, and somewhat how they are an indication of climate change. To be honest, I found the film a little dry, and while the cinematography was breathtaking [who doesn't love shots of the desolate arctic!?] the documentary was a little lacking in the department of relevance and importance. An awkward Q&A with the filmmakers followed. Oh, scientists.

It was an interesting night, although I was a bit disappointed that it was more biology-based, with a less geographic focus. Sadly, I wont be able to make it to the Tuesday or Wednesday events, although I would go to them. If you live in Ottawa, I think you should check them out. There are two shows each night, each with different films. If you live elsewhere in Canada, the festival will be going on tour. Click HERE for more information. You may actually learn something, you may be entertained, and its free. I give my IPYFF experience a 3.5/5