In the isolated, frozen town of Barrow, Alaska, Iñupiaq teenagers Qalli and Aivaaq have grown up like brothers in a tight-knit community defined as much by ancient traditions as by hip-hop and snowmobiles. Early one morning, on a seal hunt with their friend James, a tussle turns violent, and James is killed. Panic stricken, terrified, and with no one to blame but themselves, Qalli and Aivaaq lie and declare the death a tragic accident. As Barrow roils with grief and his protective father becomes suspicious, Qalli stumbles through guilt-filled days, wrestling with his part in the death. For the first time in his life, he’s treading alone on existential ice.
In this utterly engrossing, suspenseful feature-film debut by award-winning short filmmaker Andrew Okpeaha MacLean, the snowy Arctic plains embody Qalli’s lost innocence, while the claustrophobic town mirrors his entrapment, as he trudges through layers of deceit and the gauntlet of how to be a friend and a man. –Sundance Film Festival
This is a great example of a first feature developed from an award winning short (Sikumi). Andrew has now created a rich and very well developed world for his characters. Contemporary in it's setting of hip-hop loving Eskimo teens growing up on the edge of civilisation the conflicts and plot points are very well timed and my only criticism would be the final turn. 3.5 stars
An interesting integration of Indigenous worldview with normally conflicting rules and technique of American genre. Although a bit overly dramatic when depicting family squabbles, MacLean smartly allows cultural values to rise above the constraints of the genre, wherein it's not necessarily about the fear of getting caught by the law, but getting lectured by family elders.
Jamie Stuart spent much of his time in Park City during the Sundance Film Festival shooting interviews for Filmmaker and has now edited his