Specializing in narratives for children, Grethe Bee-Waal, director, screenwriter and actress is chosen by the Sundance Film Festival to showcase her latest feature film Operation Arctic. A Norwegian production with the English subtitles was not a hindrance for the American festival audience. Bee-Waal created a remarkable story of survival showcasing an intelligent script, superb young acting and beautiful cinematography. Relatable in any language.
Based on a novel by Norwegian children's author Leif Hamre, Bee-Waal uses his storyline as the backdrop for an old fashioned Wonderful World of Walt Disney Sunday evening family adventure flick.
Impressive was the Q & A (Question and Answer) time at the conclusion of the screening. I observed 99% of the questions asked of the director, Bee-Waal, were from children. When the Q & A segment opened, hands all over the sold-out cinema room raised one after the other. Accompanied by child-like, squirmy noises of anticipation hoping to be chosen to speak. Quite endearing. Even so were the questions that ranged from "How did did you train the wild animals?" to "Why were the young stars not present?" Delightfully honest, engaging and uninhibited dialogue. Simply refreshing!
Thirteen-year-old, Julia (Kaisa Gurine Antonsen), and her younger twin siblings, Sindre (Leonard Valestrand Eike ), and Ida (Ida Leonora Valestrand Eike) move to a new city in the Arctic with their parents, due to a job transfer. The children are forced to enter a new environment that threatens their social skills and identity. The first day of school awarded each child with negative reinforcement that outsiders do not belong.
The three leave the school premises early in search of their father's place of employment--the city's Search and Rescue helicopter station. They needed to go see their father and plead their case to return to their former place of residence. The three stow-away in a helicopter they thought was going to their father's Arctic outpost station. They were happy the helicopter finally landed. In a white-out blizzard they jumped off to run to the workers station but soon realized there was no station. Shocked and frightened at the sound of the helicopter starting up its engines and turning around in an attempt to get back on the helicopter, they were too late. They watch as the helicopter quickly lifts off and flies away.
Fortunately, an empty cabin is near the site where the helicopter landed. The children retreat for shelter and hope that the morrow will bring new hope for their rescue. Their adventure of survival begins when they realize they are stranded on the remote Arctic Island of Spitzbergen. Limited food supply, wild animals, fierce weather and no way to communicate with the mainland force the three to work together using their wits and instincts to survive the rough terrane if they ever hope to be rescued.