For the 2013 New Zealand International Film Festival I figured I’d try and keep some kind of a review diary covering each of the 20 or so films I’m planning to see. It’s going to be a busy couple of weeks.

ice nacreous cloudsThe first (and maybe only?) NZ film in my schedule for NZIFF2013, Antarctica: A Year on Ice is without question going to be one of my personal highlights of the entire fortnight.

First of all, let me say I’m an absolute nature documentary fiend, and ever since I can remember I have gorged myself on BBC documentaries and the like about the natural world. Yet what I have seen in other documentaries about Antarctica has been almost entirely focused on the magical beauty and fury of nature on the continent.

What Antarctica: A Year on Ice offers is an intimate look at the people who choose to spend significant portions of their life there. Not so much the scientists whose work is probably the reason anyone is there at all, but the regular tradespeople and support staff who keep the operations going year round.

The film features a typically dry and unpretentious kiwi tone, with filmmaker Anthony Powell narrating in a natural, no-nonsense manner, and largely letting the handful of die hard citizens of the place speak about their unconventional lives. There is plenty of majestic footage of the landscape as well, with a wealth of time lapse photography that is always pretty stunning.

Antarctica: A Year on Ice is primarily about the people though, and a sense of community between nationalities that may exist nowhere else on the planet. There’s a sense of adventure in each of the locals, even as they go about their days in much the same way as people do anywhere else. Some will be intimidated by the awesome challenge the icy world offers, but I for one was ready to sign up for a winter at the bottom of the world as soon as I exited the theatre.