GFF 2012: On the Ice
Writer/director Andrew Okpeaha MacLean extrapolates the premise of his 2008 short of the same name – a murder and the moral dilemma the reporting or cover-up of it presents – to produce a visually arresting, thoughtful feature debut. Set in a remote Alaskan village, the film’s great strength is making the landscape utterly extraordinary to the audience but painfully mundane to its protagonists.
After an evening partying, teenagers James (John Miller) and Aivaaq (Frank Qutuq Irelan) go out to hunt, later followed by Qalli (Josiah Patkotak). The former two scuffle and, after Qalli intervenes, James is left dead; the body is disposed of and the young conspirators concoct an accident for the authorities to save their skins. The ease with which someone can get away with murder in this environment is as chilling as the stunning cinematography, and the complex emotions felt by Qalli and Aivaaq effectively drawn. The suggestion of old-world values embraced by the community colliding with its younger generation also adds welcome depth.