arctic skylineUWindsor faculty and students document the desertion of an Arctic settlement in the experimental film short “Qausuittuq.”

Faculty and students produce film showcasing Arctic community

“The place where the sun doesn’t rise” is the subject of film professor Min Bae’s latest short experimental documentary shot in the Arctic circle community of Qausuittuq, a small settlement located in the Inuit hamlet of Resolute Bay, Nunavut.

The film Qausuittuq explores the parallels between humans’ and nature’s influences on the northern landscape, emphasizing the inevitable passage of time and the impact of climate fluctuation. The industrialization of this community disrupts the once peaceful and natural land that now contains abandoned machinery, melting polar ice caps floating on the crystal blue-violet sea, and white silent nights shattered only by the cries of foxes.

This film was directed, produced, and shot by Bae, associate professor of film production in the School of Creative Arts (SoCA). Two graduate students in the MFA in Film and Media Arts program, Gemma Cunial and Adam Dunn, also worked on the film. Cunial was the associate producer and Dunn the film’s editor.

The film asks viewers to “immerse yourself within an experience of isolation and loneliness from a place you’ve never been before. Wasted warehouses, empty oil tanks, broken industrial machinery, and forgotten sunsets: Qausuittuq showcases the desertion of a North Pole settlement.”

Bae says he wanted to express the North Pole’s uncanny coexistence of nature and humankind.

“I exhibit the evolution and digression of human creation, consumption, and inevitable abandonment of the ‘place with no dawn’,” he says.

Bae received the best international director award for Qausuittuq at the recent Oregon Documentary Film Festival.

Qausuittuq was an interesting challenge to assemble,” recalls Dunn. “Unlike most short films, Qausuittuq does not have a traditional narrative, and it took a few iterations to find the structure and flow of the short.“

The film’s ethereal soundtrack was composed and performed by Brent Lee, associate dean, research and graduate studies in the Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Science, and associate professor in SoCA.

“The soundtrack features many layers of electric guitar lines,” explains Dr. Lee. “I don’t know that I would have taken that approach except that I’ve been playing more guitar with headphones since the pandemic began and the instrument is easy to record at home.”

As associate producer on this film project, Cunial carried the promotional responsibilities.

“For this project, I developed skills in distribution. I created a press kit for the film, maintained social media pages, as well as submitted the film to festivals worldwide,” says Cunial. “The film has already been accepted into four festivals: Venice Shorts in California, Oregon Documentary Film Festival, Oregon Short Film Festival, and the Oxford Film Festival in Mississippi.”

As it garners nominations and distinctions, look for Qausuittuq at several Canadian and international festivals this year. Check out the trailer here:

—Susan McKee