The Sun shines bright

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REVIEW

The Sun at Midnight

Stars: 4.0

Starring Devery Jacobs, Duane Howard, Mark Anderako, Sarah Jerome, William Greenland, Paul McKee, Jaclynn Robert, and Shayla Snowshoe

Written and directed by Kirsten Carthew

Rated: PG for violence, coarse language and tobacco use

Runtime: 93 minutes

The Sun at Midnight screens on Monday, June 25 at 7 p.m. at the Arden Theatre as an extension of the spring series of the St. Albert Public Library’s Reel Mondays fundraiser. All proceeds go towards producing the St. Albert Readers’ Festival, also known as STARFest.

Tickets are $15 or $10 for children up to 18. They can be purchased at the customer service desk at the library. Call 780-459-1530 or visit www.sapl.ca for more information.

*Please note: This is a new addition to the Reel Monday series – season tickets for the 2018 season are not valid for this screening.

In the Arctic Circle, the sun doesn’t set during the summer months. They don’t call it the Land of the Midnight Sun for nothing. I’ve never been there but it must seem mystical, otherworldly, just like the herds of caribou that travel for many hundreds of kilometres to participate in their biological rituals.

In The Sun At Midnight, there’s a story that revolves around something else that’s mystical: an unlikely friendship between a young woman and an older man. Lia (Devery Jacobs) is 16 and running solo after her mom dies in a car accident. She’s a bit of a city girl but she feels like a fish out of water when she gets sent to spend the summer with her Gwich’in grandmother (Sarah Jerome) in Fort McPherson, a small subarctic community in the Northwest Territories.

Things don’t really work out for her there, so she splits on a broken-down boat trying to get back to the city. If it weren’t for Alfred (Duane Howard), a hunter on a mission, she likely would have met her end right smack dab in the middle of nowhere. He’s trying to track down a missing caribou herd up a mountain just to make sure that they still exist. Together, they figure some things out for themselves and for each other in this beautiful drama set deep in a beautiful, rare landscape. It’s not an easy journey but there is much strength in numbers out there, even if there are only two of them.

Director Kirsten Carthew said that it was her own experiences as a child in the north that prompted her to start writing the script many years ago. Eventually, she moved from her journalistic career with CBC to become a filmmaker to bring her dream to life.

“I’m from the Northwest Territories and have always been in love with the environment and the land. I was gifted the expression ‘we protect what we fall in love with.’ I just wanted to share it,” she said, noting that there haven’t been many films from the Northwest Territories. “The landscape is so inherently cinematic.”

She’s onto something there. This is her debut feature film and it has caught on like a wildfire, screening at dozens of film festivals around the world and capturing handfuls of awards for it. Next month, The Sun will receive a theatrical release in Australia, and the same is in the works for the U.S. in the fall, which amazes the director. It’s a critical form of acceptance and ‘making it’ in the tough-as-nails movie business.

“This is actually having people go to movie theatres and see the film. I’m really proud of that. I’m really happy for the film to be received the way it has. The pickup of the film is through word of mouth. We’re not well-known but we’re getting a lot of love.”

She ended by ensuring that the film consulted with the local Gwich’in tribal council to confirm its consent to shoot on Gwich’in land and to get its approval for how the people were depicted on screen.

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About Author

Scott Hayes

Scott Hayes joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2008. Scott writes about the arts, entertainment, movies, culture, community groups, and charities. He also writes general news, features, columns and profiles on people.