The Blinding Sea (108 minutes) is my first film. I produced, directed, researched, filmed, wrote and narrated it. In this non-derivative, anti-racist film, I follow the life and rivalries of the Norwegian polar explorer Roald Amundsen, who developed relationships with people in diverse cultures in order to explore Aboriginal traditional knowledge and modern science, transforming discovery itself into high adventure. Shot on location in Antarctica, Alaska, the Yukon, Nunavut, Quebec, Mexico, Norway, Ireland, Scotland, England, Belgium and other places, this film goes beyond the myth-making and myth-breaking of conventional biographies. The film draws on family stories, as remembered by descendants of explorers of Amundsen’s era, and also by descendants of the Inuit of Arctic Canada and the Chukchi of Siberia whom Amundsen knew best.
I am a first-time film-maker, and an award-winning author and translator. After two decades as a print, radio and TV journalist reporting from six continents, I wrote Robber Baron, a candid unauthorized biography of fallen press magnate Conrad Black. I didn’t want to stick with the rich and powerful, however. As an artist-historian with a PhD in the History and Philosophy of Science, and a postgraduate year in Medical Sciences, I served as a university professor for seven years, then came to realize that what we consider science sometimes falls well of folk wisdom, in terms of its validity and practical benefits. In making this film, I returned to my first love – the Canadian Arctic, and in so doing, I uncovered oral traditions and family memories among the Inuit, which led directly to this film.
This film explores the life and rivalries of Norwegian polar explorer Roald Amundsen, as well as his passion for modern science and Inuit traditional knowledge, in cross-cultural settings. The Blinding Sea is a non-derivative, anti-racist film. I shot most of the film myself, working closely with Guillaume Falardeau, a superb video editor. In addition, I composed and/or directed the original musical score, working with wonderful Inuit throat-singers and Montreal jazz/folk musicians.
To my mind, a documentary film shouldn’t trot out intriguing facts and hype them till kingdom come: a documentary should reveal a bold new vision that keeps viewers on the edge of their seats, and brings them to a greater understanding of human experience.
I sometimes shot footage in extreme conditions (down to -54C or -65F, without counting the wind). Believe me, I found this refreshing! I hope viewers will come away refreshed as well – culturally refreshed, I mean – with curiosity about new knowledge we need, in order to survive.
The film has won 22 awards so far.