“SILA AND THE GATEKEEPERS OF THE ARCTIC”—Weather, Consciousness and Universe

“Sila and the Gatekeepers of the Arctic”

Weather, Consciousness and Universe

Amos Lassen

Director and cinematographer Corina Gamma uses incredibly beautiful images and Jorge Corante’s music to show us a world where Sila is slipping out of balance as a team of international scientists tries to find out why, the Inuit struggle with its consequences. I must admit that I had no idea what the word “Sila” means or that the word even existed and even when I read about this documentary I was still not sure of the meaning of it. I have since learned that “Sila” is a Greenlandic word that means weather, consciousness and the universe.

To the Inuit of Qaanaaq, 1,200 miles above the Arctic Circle, “Sila” is the weather, the sky – “all that is out there.”  The film opens with interviews with Inuits and focuses on the disorder of Sila due to global warming. We meet a team of NASA funded researchers at who are led lead by climatologist Konrad Steffen. These people measure the climate on the ice to aid and help us understand the past and predict the future. We get images of the area and the people who are there and these images capture Arctic culture in an “elegant, humanistic way.” While the topic of the film is scientific, the language used is for the layman so that we can easily learn about “Sila”. We are constantly aware of climate change and we the ethereal connection between man and nature.

The gorgeous landscape of Greenland is the star of the film and it is on this landscape where climate change is most visible. We meet two independent groups of Inuit subsistence hunters and a group of polar scientists, who have seen the transformation of the environment. It is through their interwoven stories that we really understand the meaning of sila in the world of today.

When the film was made, the sun set on October 25 for the winter until it rose again on February 17. We understand then why those who live there feel that their lives are made of sun and ice. We see, however, that this is changing. We cannot deny the effect of global warming on a once-thriving culture that is now struggling to survive. We gain insight into the culture of the Inuit. What the Intuits have to deal with is a representation of the challenges of many other indigenous cultures all over the world, who depend primarily on a healthy local ecosystem. Many of these systems are declining because of invasive pollution and Greenhouse Gases.

Isolated communities are threatened by climate change and their culture and languages are defenseless against the influences of our Western culture. This film is a look at an important and critical moment in the history of the Arctic. “The film humanizes the impact of the warming Arctic and demonstrates the interconnectedness between these small Arctic communities and the larger global society. It presents a small part of the earth as a sample of the challenges we face as a global community in an ecologically unstable and increasingly unsustainable and globalized world.”

Director Corina Gamma explored the many settlements and towns from the southern tip to Greenland’s most northern village Siorapluk. In the spring of 2011, she spent three weeks with renowned Swiss climatologist Dr. Konrad Steffen and his crew on the inland ice sheet at Swiss Camp, a climate research station. SILA and the Gatekeepers of the Arctic gained her several nominations and awards.

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