The Start of Summer in Antarctica

Vimeo / Studiocanoe
Vimeo / Studiocanoe / Vimeo / Studiocanoe

Union Glacier Camp is located on a large glacier in Antarctica. Its main feature is a massive "blue ice" runway, facilitating inbound flights from Chile, making the camp a waypoint for many Antarctic expeditions.

In this curiously fascinating documentary, we see what it takes to start up the camp for the "summer" season. A 10-person crew arrives early to prepare the runway, kick snow from the doors of the few permanent structures, and make it all go, fueled by food stored in a shipping container buried in the ice. I have to admit, I was not expecting this documentary to be so much fun. It's an hour of beautifully photographed, oddly humorous moments near the South Pole, all presented with a Wes Anderson vibe. It also made me really grateful for proper insulation, sitting here in a non-sub-zero office. Filmmaker Temujin Doran made this on his way to making another documentary and wrote, in part:

For me, this film seems a bit like an antithesis to many expedition and adventure documentaries. There is no great achievement or record broken, nor any real challenge to overcome. Instead it concerns minor details; the everyday tasks of the staff that were made more special by the environment surrounding them. And in fact, I think that's what attracted me to make this film - the delightful trivialities of an average life, working in Antarctica.

If you have an hour-long lunch break handy, tune into this and be glad your job is not thawing out the snow-plow. (Note that the introduction is probably the driest part, though the beauty of the maps and stuff make it work...the fun starts when we see the staff toiling away at their various jobs in subzero temperatures. The introduction is certainly helpful in understanding the geography, and the various vehicles you'll see later.) Enjoy:

Welcome to Union Glacier from Studiocanoe on Vimeo.

If you don't want to commit to a full hour, check out the two-minute trailer to get a sense of what you're in for.