Polaris debuted at the Fantasia Film Festival the previous year. The movie, which had an all-female cast and essentially no speech, was dubbed “Mad Max in the snow.”
The video, which was filmed in the Yukon during the pandemic’s peak, presents a unique and legendary view of the future. Polaris depicts the amazing journey that Sumi (Viva Lee) and her mother, a polar bear, go in search of the Polaris star.
A post-apocalyptic epic adventure, the movie conjures us a vision of a future in which snow has taken over the planet.
Since its premiere in Montreal, Polaris has been played at festivals all around the world. In addition, the film now features a voice-over, which gives it an additional narrative depth.
Growing up in the Northwest Territories, director Kirsten Carthew has long chosen Northern Canada as a shooting site for both her feature and short films.
She presents an alternative perspective on the Canadian film business, which is dominated by voices from big cities.
Carthew, who is currently located in Toronto, discussed her environmental stewardship, difficulties photographing in the snow, and sources of inspiration with Cult MTL over the phone.
Kirsten Carthew: The short and a few other things served as inspiration. One is Greek mythology, which I was exposed to growing up. The tale universe, tone, colour scheme, and a few of the characters were particularly intriguing aspects of the short film.
In Yellowknife, we shot Fish Out of Water. There was -40. We were standing on a frozen lake in bitter cold.
Any audience that has experienced winter before, particularly those who reside in Canada or the northern United States, is aware of the wide variety of hues that winter brings.
The many tones of grey and white were very beautiful to me. The Yellowknife tale universe was intriguing, as was the colour scheme.
My home is in Yellowknife. It appears as though the end of the world has arrived; some objects, such as mining equipment and large boats filled with an eclectic mix of intriguing objects, make you think they belong to a bygone era.
The North has a strong feeling of do-it-yourself culture, and there are some very amazing elements to that. In the film’s psychology as well as artistically, I sought to highlight these issues.
JS: There isn’t much speech in your movie; much of it is either grunts or a made-up language. Although you operate inside certain well-known frameworks, there are numerous particular difficulties. How does the script appear?
Since I’m both the director and the writer, I realised I had to add a little more detail to the scenes before we could discuss the specifics of shooting.
I’ve taken footage in a variety of weather scenarios, and the elements are beyond your control. You just put forth your best effort and wish for success.
However, you must provide specifics. The dialogue is what makes a script seem so “normal.” Generally speaking, one minute is equivalent to one page, but a lot of it is time for conversation.
There just isn’t much on the page to occupy that space when you have a script like Polaris, which is devoid of conversation (there are only approximately 20 words uttered in imaginary language).
In that sense, it gives it a slightly unique feeling. However, there is still a lot of the structure from perhaps more conventional narrative.
It was -20 when we were filming. The Yukon didn’t have to be the freezing region where the narrative takes place.
Perhaps it was in Tijuana. In terms of this future, it might have been anywhere in the world.
However, we did film in the Yukon, namely in and around Whitehorse during the winter, and Viva’s acting career was much benefited by that setting. She performed admirably.
However, the team had a fantastic attitude and basically accepted the challenge. Improvising is one of the great things to do.
We were employing a snow cam in place of a dolly. We simply jimmy a snowmobile, you know.
These days, cameras may achieve images that were previously unattainable due to technical or financial constraints because to the abundance of excellent gimbals available.
David Sherman, our director of photography, went on to win this championship snowshoeing. I would also be recording when out on snowshoes. It’s most likely what people think Canadians are like. Though it’s not truly being filmed, in certain locations the snow was so thick that you had to use snowshoes to go around. Viva had to dash through the snow, but occasionally it would be two or three feet deep, forcing her to stop. However, it was successful because it made sense in the context of the narrative.
JS: Would you mind discussing the costume and art direction? That really enhances the mood and general aesthetic of the movie.
Kirsten Carthew: Being reared in the Northwest Territories has brought me a great deal of thankfulness. Even though I’m not that old, I have experienced the effects of climate change. Some elderly people shared numerous anecdotes about their youth and how drastically things have changed from then on. Not only is there awareness of climate change, but you also live close to nature since it’s there in your backyard. Although I did studied environmentalism a little bit, that type of information is not what I would call textbook knowledge; rather, it is outside of my field of competence. It’s just more of what I’ve observed, learned from my experiences in life, and absorbed from conventional wisdom and science. In the movie, this planet is frozen. The environmentalist brother of mine will say something like, “The world is not going to freeze over.” This is made up; it’s more about warming than freezing. It’s a movie that starts a conversation. You know, there were floods following the fires, and then there was freezing.