Lübeck, 25. September 2013 – Entitled “Film Headed Northwards: Spitsbergen and the Path to the Pole”, this year’s Retrospective at Nordic Film Days Lübeck from 30. October to 3. November 2013 presents extensive historical footage of this Arctic region, consisting of both feature and documentary films, as well as modern cinematic documents with a present-day perspective on the climatic conditions of the polar region.
When Spitsbergen is a topic, it naturally includes all the great adventurers and scientists, such as the Norwegian Roald Amundsen, who was the first person to reach the geographical South Pole in 1911 and made several attempts at reaching the North Pole. Stig Andersen and Kenny Sanders’ film “Frozen Heart” (1999) recounts Amundsen’s famous race against the British Robert F. Scott as well as his North Pole expeditions in his own words and with original footage. His expeditions are also portrayed in the newly restored expedition film “Roald Amundsen - Lincoln Ellsworth's Polar Flight” by Paul Berge and Oscar Omdal (1925), and the documentary “Roald Amundsen – Lost in the Arctic” (2010) by Rudolph Herzog, which searches for traces and remnants of the 1928 expedition. 1924 saw the first aerial footage of Spitsbergen and the adjoining Arctic region in “Im Junkers-Flugzeug über Spitzbergen”, commissioned by the Dessau-based entrepreneur Hugo Junkers, who sent the famous Swiss pilot and cameraman Walther Mittelholzer en route with two Junkers F 13 aeroplanes (the first planes to be made entirely of metal).
100 years after the Swedish aeronauts S.A. Andrée, Strindberg and Frænkel set out to the Pole in a hot air balloon in 1897, director Jan Troell follows on their tracks with his film “Their Frozen Dream” (En frusen dröm), based on diary entries and crew photographs that were discovered in 1930 when the team’s last camp was found. The modern adventurer Arved Fuchs and the climate researcher Dr. Dirk Notz follow on the tracks of the German Herbert Schröder-Stranz and his 1912/1913 expedition in the film “Verschollen vor Spitzbergen” by Kirsten Hoehne and Frode Mo (2008). Fuchs believes he can reconstruct the men’s mysterious disappearance who left the Norwegian harbour Tromö aboard the “Herzog Ernst” in 1912 and died on Spitsbergen.
In 1965, the famous German writer Alfred Andersch spent four weeks aboard a deep sea cutter, travelling to the west of Spitsbergen to the Seven Islands bordering on the polar ice. His wife Gisela made several colour photographs and he kept a travel diary, both of which inspired his book “High Latitudes or News from the Boundry” (published in 1969). The journey has been documented cinematically in Martin Bosboom’s “Haakon’s Trouser Pockets”.
Twenty years later, in 1985, Ola Solum shoots the Arctic spy thriller “Orion’s Belt”. It tells the tale of three Norwegians who stumble upon a Russian wire-tapping spy in a cave on the Svalbard coastline. The Soviets attempt to keep this discovery quiet by any means necessary. A gripping thriller from the Cold War era, after Jon Michelet.
10 years later, Hans Petter Moland shows three very different men in his “Arctic Western” “Zero Kelvin” (Kjærlighetens kjøtere), shot on Spitsbergen. The men go on a hunting expedition into the arctic country. Conflicts ensue and escalate until one of the group members disappears on the Christmas Eve of 1928.
The documentary “The Ghost of Piramida” by Andreas Koefoed features the Danish band “Efterklangen” seeking inspiration in the abandoned mining town of “Piramida” on Spitsbergen, where they record sounds for a later album. The film contains some particularly impressive footage and memories by the Russian amateur filmmaker Alexander Inanovic Naomkin, who lived in Piramida from the late 1960s to 1998.
Fittingly, the Retrospective’s opening event on 30. Oktober at 7.30 pm at CineStar Filmpalast Stadthalle is dedicated to music and art topics: the music video “Polar Euphoria” (Polar eufori) by Mari Tefre raises a musical, cinematic monument to the Arctic, the North and Spitsbergen in particular. The middle-length film “There Will Be Some Who Will Not Fear Even That Void” is another artistic study of Spitsbergen, accompanying 20 artists being inspired by the Arctic throughout a two-year sailing trip in 2012, turning their impressions into bizarre, surreal and beautiful art. This opening programme will be preceded by the short film “Ghost Radio Hunter”, also set in “Piramida”. Here, the artist Per Martinsen is looking for a “ghost radio” that is still emitting signals in the abandoned settlement.
Jörg Schöning, Head of the Retrospective: “In the same way as contemporary, avant-garde artists explore artifacts on Spitsbergen, an encounter with old films in the Retrospective can inspire an examination of the past and the future of this unique geographical environment.”
As the opening event of this year’s Retrospective, DIE GEMEINNÜTZIGE will present a lecture by the Hamburg-based meteorologist and Spitsbergen expert Dr. Dirk Notz on Tuesday, 29. October at 7pm at Königstr. 5 in Lübeck. Admission is free of charge. Dr. Notz is an employee of Max-Planck-Institut für Meteorologie in Hamburg, and will speak about the melting of the polar ice caps and its effects in relation to the climate change.
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