Sunday, December 10, 2017

AIFF 2017: Caught By Surprise By Wonderful Film - Arctic Daughter

Jean Aspen after the showing
I didn't know anything about Arctic Daughter except that it was about a woman who had lived in log cabins above the Arctic Circle inAlaska.  And it was the only thing showing today at noon, and I'd seen the shorts being shown at 12:30pm.

Tom Irons, Aspen's husband, post showing
I was caught up in a film that was beautiful in so many ways.  The visuals were beautiful -  I wasn't conscious of the music but for a few times when the original piano score was perfect for the shot.  Then it faded back into the background of my consciousness.  I'm starting to have some trouble with hearing all the dialogue at this festival, but not in this film.  And the story is the great Alaska story of going out into the wilderness, building a cabin by hand, and surviving well through the winter.  But it's not a macho conquering nature movie, but a thoughtful reflection on the place of humans in nature.
Composer Lindianne Sarno
though a lot of it was made up of old photographs, it didn't feel like it was.  And they didn't use the Ken Burns effect. (And I when I said that to Jean, she said, "Who's Ken Burns?")

It's a beautiful and inspiring film that I hope is seen by all Alaskans, and by all citizens of the U.S. and the world.  It's about the meaning of life, our relationship to nature, about change and human strength and fragility.  It's narrated by a beautiful woman who shares the wisdom she's gained from her experiences of life pared down to just the essentials.  But she's also lived in Arizona.  I've focused on one woman Jean Aspen, but it also involves some men - her first and second husbands and her son.

I'm not easily carried away like this by a film, but I was today.  The only quibble I might have is that toward the end it seemed to be getting a little too long, but there were two important things the film makers needed to say at the end.

This is as eloquent a statement as I've seen about our human place in the natural world.

And it turned out that this was the world premiere showing.  Even the film makers had never seen it on a large screen!  I learned that at the short Q&A right after the film was shown and then more time to talk to the film makers in the Port Room.  I was supposed to take J home and then come back and see the Best of the Shorts, but I in the end I went home and took a break to work on this post and now I'm at the Panel "From Short to Feature."

This reminds me of being surprised by another Alaska film that I saw under similar circumstances - Greg Chaney's The Empty Chair.  A really good and important film about Alaska that was getting its world premiere here at AIFF.

From the Festival description:
"D.K. Johnson, moderator, will be joined by Writer/Director Levi A. Taylor (Conspiracy P.I.E., Way Up North), Cinematographer/Gaffer April Frame (Frame by Frame Productions), Director/Editor Quinton Oliver Smith (Ruthless Rhymer, Find Me) and Director Logan Dellinger (Moose the Movie, Sudsy Slim Rides Again). Each filmmaker has taken part in both large and small-scale productions including feature films, music videos, commercials and reality television."

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