We reached out to our World Wildlife Day Film Showcase filmmakers to ask them five questions about the experience of making their films.
What inspired this story?
Director, Producer, and Cameraman Asgeir Helgestad: The average temperature has increased +5.6 degrees C at the Arctic islands of Svalbard. For an ecosystem formed around the ice, this is nothing less than a crisis. You get reminded of it every day, and get sad. For me there is nothing more important than documenting and telling the world about what we lose every day.
Were there any surprising or meaningful experiences you want to share?
AH: I think one of the most rewarding and surprising experiences with this work was to be able to film the vibrant and diverse life under the ice. A green field of algae forms in the tempered zone under the ice, where tiny crustaceans transform protein and sugar into fat, which actually feeds the whole ecosystem. When filming this beautiful, hidden landscape, I realized that when the ice melts away, the whole ecosystem is also melting away. Ice is so much more than a platform for seals and polar bears to rest, give birth and hunt. Having said that, what has touched my heart the most was the wonderful character of this clever, caring, playful empathic polar bear mother, Frost, that I have known since 2013. It does not matter if polar bears can be dangerous for us. We are actually the dangerous ones!
What impact do you hope this film will have?
AH: I hope that it can help bring more attention and focus to the fact that we are not the only species on earth, and every day we lose something vulnerable on this planet due to climate change.
“A beautiful and sad film at the same time” is what people tell me. I think many of us feel the same way. And I hope our awareness can grow and motivate us to take the steps needed to save our home. I also hope that we can stop using this crisis as an excuse to exploit even more nature in the name of climate. Our planet cannot survive the insistence on this ideology of continuous economic growth. It’s time to be clever and make the right choices.
Describe some of the challenges faced while making this film.
The fact that I follow a polar bear for many years is of course a challenge in itself. I still follow this wonderful bear, and I wish I could have more time to be out there instead of sitting in an office using my time to raise money for my projects. Svalbard is a cold, rough and expensive place to work, but in the end this film depends on having time to observe. And I don’t push the limits to get the closeups of claws and jaws. This film is primarily about understanding this place and how to communicate in an engaging way what happens when the ice is melting under her paws.
What drove you as a filmmaker to focus on biodiversity?
AH: Frustration. We destroy the Arctic with climate change. Then we use climate as an excuse to cut down the rainforest to produce “green” palm oil, while we pump up more fossil oil than ever. We lose the Arctic, the rainforest and the coral reefs… What is left then? And it seems like we don’t even want to change. Everyone who is in government talks about growth, while this planet actually needs the opposite. Right now I also work with another project on biodiversity, and I cross my fingers that I will be able to realize it. Making films about why we should not destroy this diverse and wonderful planet is the only meaningful thing I can do.