ABOUT THE FILM
The documentary explores the Greenlandic concept of SILA, a term that encompasses weather, balance and consciousness, and gives insight into the culture and science in the Arctic.
The film takes the viewer through the frozen landscape of the Arctic and into the local subsistence hunting culture in Greenland. In the far North of Greenland, climate has defined the lives of the Inuit for centuries. Since the 90s, the local Inuit have witnessed warm water currents reaching their frozen fjords. Weather patterns began to change and different fish were entering their waters. A hunter’s voice gives witness: “the sea ice is only half as thick as it was twenty years ago and the hunting seasons have become shorter with every year.” With the thinning of sea ice, a strict hunting quota system is enforced, which reduces his food to barely enough to feed the family and his dogs. He fears the Greenland’s centuries-long traditions as well as their identity will eventually be lost to the rapidly disappearing sea ice.
In juxtaposition to the native culture along the coastline, the film give insight into the science on Greenland’s Ice Cap, one of the largest glaciers on Earth. Every year in May, a small international group of scientists gathers at a small camp, located on this most desolate and hostile place. Dr. Konrad Steffen, a full-bearded and charismatic climatologist, introduces his research station, Swiss Camp, offering an intimate and personal glimpse into the small and enclosed community of 7 researchers. Consisting of two work huts and seven sleeping tents, the camp is a cluster of small dots amidst an endless white and frozen ice desert. In 1991, Steffen founded the camp by constructing several weather towers to monitor the climate on the ice sheet. Partially funded by NASA, these towers have been transmitting data continuously for over twenty years. In recent years, the station has collapsed due to the increasing melting of the glacier.
The visual contrast between the small settlement of the north and Greenland’s capital Nuuk, gives testimony to the impacts of globalization on this indigenous culture. Aqqaluk Lynge, a human rights leader and politician, describes the economic challenges Greenland is facing, while his nation aspires to become independent from the Danish Kingdom. As Chair of the Inuit Circumpolar Council (ICC), Lynge’s direct and articulate statements also defines the strong connection of his culture to the land, a culture that is fighting for its survival.
SILA and the Gatekeepers humanizes the impact of the warming Arctic and brings attention to the interconnectedness between these small Arctic communities and the larger global society. It presents a small part of the earth as a sample of the challenges we face as a global community in an ecologically unstable and increasingly unsustainable world.