Arctic Rights and Wrongs

In the Age of Climate Change

This program brings together recent documentaries that depict a globalized Arctic, including films from Canada, Denmark, Germany, Greenland, Norway, and Russia. The films articulate how human rights issues in the Arctic are diverse and demonstrate distinct regional and national characteristics. These documentaries address issues of human rights from perspectives that range from insider and outsider, historical and contemporary, experimental and activist, personal and political, and include films by Indigenous directors. The films address questions of environmental impact, geopolitics, colonialism, and Indigenous rights in ways that are also transforming what audiences expect from Arctic filmmaking, moving away from depicting the region as a blank, unchanging, and isolated slate. Arctic documentary cinema functions as a central tool for sharing knowledge, expertise, and information about the impact of climate change. In this context, it is important to note that many contemporary Arctic Indigenous documentaries foreground how Indigenous knowledge, experiences and perspectives are routinely ignored in attempts to understand the impact of climate change through the paradigms of Western rationality and scientific expertise. Other contemporary Arctic documentaries consider the region’s history of colonialism. These deploy a wide range of styles, from hybrid documentary to the rockumentary, to tell these often marginalized and repressed stories. Many of the films bring together Indigenous and settler filmmakers to engage in coalitional politics, building bridges between communities in the process. Throughout the history of Arctic documentary, the question of ethos, and its relationship to human rights, has been paramount. Arctic explorers relied on – and abused – the ethical prerogative of documentary filmmaking to “prove” the significance of their journeys and expeditions. From Robert Flaherty’s Nanook of the North (1922) onward, ethnographers have relied on the documentary ethos as a voice of European and Western privilege to describe and dissect the North and the Arctic and its Indigenous inhabitants. To counteract these practices, women’s and feminist films about Arctic exploration have offered a gender-reflexive ethos that challenges the dominant patriarchal and heteronormat ive representations of the Arctic. And, with the rise of participatory documentary and video activism, Indigenous filmmakers have in recent years used the documentary form as a means of giving themselves a voice, and as a tool for bringing attention to the extraordinary and disproportionate effects of climate change in the Far North. In the twenty-first century, Arctic cinemas are a site of both local and global human rights struggles.

Scott MacKenzie & Anna Westerståhl Stenport,
Program Curators

Ivalo Frank Germany 2010 24min English
Recorded in abandoned military locations in Greenland, this experimental music documentary tells the love story of two people set in the context of the Cold War.
Művész
Nov 12, 18:15
English Subtitles
Elle-Maija Tailfeathers Canada & Norway 2014 14min English & Sámi
Through animation, re-enactments, and archival photos, the director delves into the dissolution of her parents' love story and how it has colored her perception of love.
Művész
Nov 12, 18:15
English Subtitles & Hungarian Simultaneous Translation
Inuk Silis-Hoegh Greenland & Denmark & Norway 2014 73min Greenlandic & Danish
1973, Greenland. A hunger for independence rises to the surface after 200 years of colonial suppression. And it is a rock band that starts it all.
Toldi
Nov 11, 22:15
English Subtitles & Hungarian Simultaneous Translation
Művész
Nov 13, 20:45
English Subtitles
Eva Belova Russia 2015 72min Russian
Switching gears between the city life with its quick tempo, mobile phones, and internet and the meditative visits to the tundra, Sergey guides the viewers into the everyday life of the Nenets on the Yamal peninsula.
Művész
Nov 11, 20:15
English Subtitles
Toldi
Nov 12, 20:15
English Subtitles & Hungarian Simultaneous Translation
René Harder Germany & Norway 2014 52min Norwegian & Russian
Alexandra, a member of the newly formed Sami parliament in Russia, struggles to save her village from the aggressively encroaching mining and other business ventures which are destroying her beloved tundra.
Művész
Nov 12, 18:15
English Subtitles & Hungarian Simultaneous Translation
Matthias von Gunten Switzerland & Tuvalu & Greenland 2014 96min Inuit & Tuvaluan & English
When the ice melts in Thule, Tuvalu drowns in the ocean. People living in different corners of the world have their fates intimately linked.
Toldi
Nov 12, 22:00
English & Hungarian Subtitles
Művész
Nov 13, 18:00
English & Hungarian Subtitles