Tuesday 6 May 2014

North of the Sun: a Norwegian eco-odyssey

Ever since I travelled up the coast of Norway by supply boat as a backpacker 100 years ago, I've loved the place and its nature-loving people. Now I love it (and them) even more, after my annual dose of Banff Mountain Film Festival last night, courtesy of my friends at World Expeditions, the main sponsor.

The Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour Australia, which is screening in 19 cities around the country and ends on 28 June, is always amazing, always full of adventures of all kinds.

This year there's nude skiing, off-width climbing (where climbers wedge themselves into cracks just wider than their bodies), rocky mountain biking, waterfall-kayaking, island-hopping by paddleboard. But the standout film, and winner of the People's Choice Award at Banff, is North of the Sun.

It's about two 20-something Norwegian surfers, Inger Wegge and Jorn Ranum, who'd met at film school, discovered a shared passion for the outdoors and hatched a plan: to spend a winter surfing and living simply on a remote beach in northern Norway, north of the Arctic Circle. Here's the trailer:

I was spellbound for 46 minutes - and not just because I fell in love with their Hobbit-like cabin, which they built out of driftwood and heated with a makeshift heater/stove (so resourceful!). I felt inspired by their sense of wonder, their good cheer and camaraderie in the face of adversity (extreme cold, lack of sunlight for months at a time...) and their commitment (winters last nine months this far north).

I want to live here
North of the Sun could have been just another adventure film. Instead, Inger and Jorn have created an ode to the simple, natural wonders of life, to living free and frugally (they survived on food past its use-by date, which is free in Norway, and spent only five dollars during the whole trip, on sugar and tea) - and to caring for our surroundings. They collected three TONS of washed-up debris from their beach, which was later airlifted away by helicopter. Good times, good deeds. What could be better?

Catch it at the Banff (click here for dates and venues), or rent/buy it on Vimeo.