There’s nothing quite like being stranded in the Arctic to get your adrenaline pumping. From El Capitan-climbing documentaries to eco-thriller-musical comedies, these four films at Adelaide Film Festival take will take you to extreme locations for tales of human endurance, family ties and coming to terms with the savage beauty of nature.
No backstory, no need for all that character arc stuff—the unnamed main character is stranded in the Arctic after a plane crash, and he simply must do whatever it takes to survive. Ice, snow and Danish superstar Mads Mikkelsen (Casino Royale, Rogue One)–that’s all you need to know. The character absorbs himself (and the audience) in a daily routine of catching fish and sending out distress calls, but when rescue fails to materialise, he must face the decision to abandon shelter and strike out across the frozen wilderness. Brazilian Youtube sensation Joe Penna plunges into the icy wastes with an unrelenting, uncompromising story of survival that has been praised for its austere concentration on human ingenuity and determination.
Friday 12 October, 9:10pm, Mercury Cinema
Sunday 21 October, 6:15pm, GU Film House Adelaide
Get ready for an intimate and unflinching portrait of free (without ropes) soloist climber, Alex Honnold, as he prepares for his lifelong dream of climbing the world’s most famous rock, the 1,000 metre El Capitan in Yosemite National Park. Celebrated as one of the greatest athletic feats of our time, Honnold’s climb demands the ultimate standard: perfection or death. It’s an edge-of-your seat thriller and an inspiring portrait of an athlete on a quest to live beyond fear. But there is also a love story here as the climber’s armour of invincibility and disregard of danger breaks apart when a new relationship threatens his focus. Directors Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin, specialist mountaineering photographers for National Geographic, succeed in capturing deeply human moments as well as the death-defying climb with exquisite artistry and masterful, vertigo-inducing camerawork.
Friday 12 October, 7pm, Mercury Cinema
Wednesday 17 October, 6pm, Mercury Cinema
Leave No Trace
Debra Granik’s follow-up to her multi-Oscar nominated indie hit Winter’s Bone is a moody, mysterious, and mesmerizing exploration of an unexpected existence on the edge. Granik has emerged as an auteur fascinated with the lives of outsiders struggling to maintain their independence. A teenage girl (a stunning international debut by New Zealander Thomasin Harcourt McKenzie) and her father have lived undetected and off the grid for years in the Oregon forest. A chance encounter leads to their discovery and deliverance into the hands of a social services agency. They try to adapt to their new surroundings, until a sudden decision sets them on a perilous journey into the wilderness seeking complete independence and forcing them to confront their conflicting desire to be part of a community and their fierce need to live apart.
Tuesday 16 October, 7pm, GU Film House Adelaide
Sunday 21 October, 2:30pm, GU Film House Adelaide
Woman At War
Leading Icelandic filmmaker Benedikt Erlingsson (Of Horses and Men) won raves at Cannes for this eco-thriller-musical-comedy drama. It tells the story of Halla, a quiet middle-aged woman who leads a double life as “The Woman of the Mountain,” a passionate environmental activist and saboteur who brings down power lines with her bow and arrow. Halla’s surreptitious campaign is called into question when her application to adopt a young orphan is successful. She stages one final attack to deal the aluminium industry a crippling blow, but of course, things never go quite to plan. Intelligent: yes! Socially and politically cogent: yes!! Hugely enjoyable: yes!!!
Friday 12 October, 5:45pm, GU Film House Adelaide
Friday 19 October, 10:45am, Mercury Cinema