The Blinding Sea in Pondicherry

The Blinding Sea in Pondicherry

I have just learned my film The Blinding Sea won the award for Best Debut Filmmaker in the Feature category, at the Indo French International Film Festival, in Pondicherry (Puducherry), India. This is the ninth award for the film so far, and the second outside of North America.

After all the hard work on the production, it is encouraging to see the film appeals to audiences around the world.

The Indo French International Film Festival in Pondicherry, India

The Blinding Sea tells the story of Norwegian polar explorer Roald Amundsen and his accomplishments in extreme polar settings. The film focuses particularly on his two-year apprenticeship among the Inuit of Nunavut (Arctic Canada), from 1903 to 1905.

During this time, the Inuit shared their tremendous knowledge base with Amundsen. He practised their traditional techniques under supervision, to the point they were confident he had mastered the polar skills he needed.

At the same time, he shared traditional Scandinavian polar knowledge with the Inuit, so this trusting relationship went both ways. One value Amundsen and Inuit shared was that you can only succeed in the Arctic by working with Nature, not against it.

George Konana, great-grandson of Koleok, an Inuk woman who proposed marriage to Roald Amundsen, in 1904 – George initiated me, as filmmaker, to the Inuit arts of dog-sledding and igloo-building

The Blinding Sea offers a positive model of cross-cultural relationships, mutual trust and respect, in a polar setting. It highlights the ingenuity and beauty of Inuit traditional knowledge. And it shows Amundsen treated the Inuit not as secondary players in his success, but as true partners. He always publicly acknowledged everything they had shared with him.

In the decades following Amundsen’s apprenticeship, the Canadian government and churches did their best to destroy the ancestral knowledge base of the Inuit, through a policy of cultural genocide, the separation of children from their parents, and forced assimilation.

The Blinding Sea is therefore a tribute to Amundsen, but also to the courage and resilience of the Inuit people to this day.

The official announcement…

Thanks to festival director Satheesh Kumar and the tireless team in Pondicherry, who clearly love cinema!

And congratulations to one and all who worked on the production!

A view from University Beach, Pondicherry, taken by Satdeep Gill (Creative Commons 4.0)

 

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