At the Time of Whaling

A film by Leonard Kamerling, Sarah Elder,
Country: USA,
Duration: 40min,
Language: Siberian Yup’ik,
Subtitles: English,
Year: 1974

“When our ancestors hunted a whale,” elder Lincoln Pelaasi from the village of Gambell, St. Lawrence Island, tells us, “They harpooned it right on each cheek. Attached to the harpoon was a walrus skin rope and at the end of each rope was a small bag of water.  If the whale went to the right, they shook the bag on that side and he would go to the left, turning away from the sound of the water. Those big whales, just like dogs they would steer them to the land. This is how it was done.” From the roof of a snow-covered house men with binoculars scan the ocean for signs of whales.  It is April and the Bowhead whales are beginning their summer migration to Arctic waters. For generations, St. Lawrence Island hunters have waited in this very same place for their arrival.  The hunters launch their skin boats under sail and soon an exuberant voice on the CB radio shouts the news of a strike. The boats power up their motors and join the others to help corral and tow the whale back to shore where the three-day task of butchering and distributing the meat begins.

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On the Spring Ice

A film by Leonard Kamerling, Sarah Elder,
Country: USA,
Duration: 45min,
Language: Siberian Yup’ik,
Subtitles: English,
Year: 1975

Elder Lloyd Oovie, from the village of Gambell, St. Lawrence Island, recounts the mysteries of sea ice, “Long ago, people were drifted by the pack ice. It took them far away and they were never seen again.  Nothing is too big for the ice to move.  When seen for the first time, it is a mysterious thing to watch”.  A cluster of men stands on a rooftop scanning the sea.  A walrus hunting party is in distress far out on the ice.  The weather is bad and they are being drifted towards Siberia. Long ago, there was nothing that could have been done to save them.  Now they have options.  The men discuss the situation and finally decide to call the Coast Guard.  A rescue helicopter is dispatched from Kodiak, 650 miles away.  The next day, the men prepare for another walrus hunt.  They travel through leads in the pack ice where they spot two walrus sunning themselves on the ice.  Back in the village, the meat is cut, distributed, and hung to dry.
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Freedom is Here

A film by Sidse Torstholm Larsen,
Country: Greenland,
Duration: 49min,
Language: Greenlandic,
Subtitles: English,
Year: 2007

Junk, a 45-year-old man from the town Ilulissat in the Northwestern part of Greenland, most of all treasures his freedom. For him, the kind of living that makes him happy is inconsistent with town-life – every day run by the clock and other people’s decision-making. In the great ice fiord some 30 miles from town, Junnguk and a group of other men are making their living by catching halibut and hunting seals the way it has been done in generations by their fathers, grandfathers, and those before them. Throughout the winter months, Junnguk and his fellows travel by dog sled to the ice fiord spending days in each other’s company while howling their long lines before returning to town with their catch. This is a story about friendship, feeling at home, tradition, modernity in contemporary Greenland, and most importantly: finding one’s path through life.

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No Terminal!

A film by Vadim Lichatchev,
Country: Russia,
Duration: 46min,
Language: Russian,
Subtitles: English,
Year: 2003

The film is a chronicle of a few weeks struggle conducted by a small group of eco-activists supported by Cossacks and locals, against the construction of an ammonia-terminal by the chemical corporation TogliattiAzot. No Terminal! was the slogan on banners near the protest camp and posters, appealing for protests in the small village of Taman on the cost of the Black sea. Blockades of office, arrests, hunger strikes, demonstrations, and protest meetings are a part of the daily life of the eco-activists, contrasted by the quiet resort life in the area where the Cossack’s celebration takes place.

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Longing for Belonging

A film by Beate Mortensen Nesheim,
Country: Norway,
Duration: 41min,
Language: Norwegian,
Subtitles: English,
Year: 2001

Havøysund, a small fishing village in northern Norway. A place of different values for different people. What makes the sense of belonging – or not belonging to this place? The film is portraying different people’s perspectives on life here, as well as the everyday life at the place. The two young girls, Linn and Cathrin (image), want to escape the island. Their interests and values at this point in life, are pulling them away from the place against the cities, but still, it is hard for them to cut or stretch the bonds to their homeplace. Palmer is raised into the world of fish, sea, and docks. He is in some ways a fisherman by his own choice, and at the same time, a fisherman due to the lack of other opportunities Jens lived the Dream that many northerners have: To escape the dark and cold winter season by traveling to a warmer and more pleasant world. In Thailand, he met Phlabphlung. She came with her two sons to live in Havøysund with him and found her place in the community in an unexpected way.

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Autumn on Ob River

A film by Janno Simm,
Country: Russia,
Duration: 46min,
Language: Russian,
Subtitles: English,
Year: 2003

Near the mouth of Ob River in North-Western Siberia live the northernmost families of 22500 Khanty people. In conditions of a harsh polar environment and post-Soviet unpredictability, coping is a challenge. Like many of their neighbors – kinsmen, the Tobolko family is a part of a fishing brigade. To survive, when pay is scarce and even that has not been paid for months, they employ the traditional economical model of Arctic, where hunting and reindeer herding add value to fishing activities. The film follows the autumnal activity of a Khanty fisherman family: end of main fishing season – moving over to winter settlement, hunting, and reindeer herding activities. There is a story about “indigenous accountancy”- a unique balance system between fishing and reindeer herding Khanty, knowledge of fishing and hunting grounds…

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Niger-Norway

A film by Lisbet Høltedahl,
Country: Niger, Norway,
Duration: 40min,
Language: Norwegian,
Subtitles: English,
Year: 1975

A comparison of women’s life in Niger and Norway. Film footage and photos were taken at the beginning of the 1970s in the village of Maïné-Soroa, in Eastern Niger, juxtaposed with audio-visual material from Tromsø in Northern Norway. Using a simple, didactic voice-over, the film questions many stereotypes about women’s lives in Africa and Norway. It is an attempt to use audio-visual tools and fieldwork experience to teach cross-cultural understanding and ethnocentrism in Norway.

Interview with the Filmmaker:
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