Antarctic Film Festival

In 2013, when I first tried to go for an overwintering with the TAAF, I discovered the Antarctic Film Festival and I loved it!

This festival was created in 2006 by Anthony Powell and at the time involved the McMurdo and Scott bases (an American base and a neighbouring New Zealand base). In 2008, it began to expand, involving 8 bases. The first French stations arrived in 2009, and since then the festival has become a fixture on the Antarctic and Southern Ocean islands.

At the heart of the festival is the « 48-hour challenge »: on a Friday evening in August, the participating stations are given 5 elements (an object, an action, a quote, a famous character and a sound) and by Sunday evening at the latest they have to upload their creation incorporating these 5 elements.

The ‘Open’ category has also rapidly emerged as a free creation category: stations wishing to do so can create the film of their choice ahead of the official festival weekend.

And so, for the past 17 years, this event has been held during the austral winter (in July and August) and a good number of Antarctic stations have come together to take part.

While the Anglo-Saxons and the French are probably the most assiduous, 34 of the 46 current winter stations have already taken part in at least one edition.

The 2020 event was organised by Alberto Salvati, Concordia’s Station Leader at the time, and Alberto pulled out all the stops with a beautiful trailer, ua (non-public) prize-giving ceremony and the creation of a site to collect and preserve this heritage.

And, in 2023, I applied to organise this new edition with the entire Concordia DC19 team.

We in turn published a trailer inviting other stations to sign up. 25 stations representing 15 countries on 5 continents answered the call!

At the beginning of August, we drew lots for the 5 stations responsible for choosing the elements for the 48h challenge.

On 11 August, I programmed my emails (not easy with 25 stations spread over 12 different time zones!) to reveal the 5 elements of the challenge:

began to be loaded onto the Wiffa site, which represented a real challenge in itself for some stations with very limited connections.

And, really, it’s quite amazing! Both technically and in terms of artistic creativity, this festival gets better every year.

If you don’t want to see the 40 films, at least go and see the films by Crozet, Amsterdam, Amundsen-Scott, Rothera, Arctowski, Dumont d’Urville or Palmer in the « 48h » category and those by Davis, Kerguelen, King Sejong (in my view, the best of the whole competition), Palmer and Amundsen-Scott in the « Open » category.

Then it was time to vote.

To tone down tradition of allowing people to vote for themselves (which I don’t think is great), this year I introduced a ‘Eurovision-style’ system: for each category, each station had to award 3 votes worth 5, 3 and 1 point.

In some categories, there was quickly no doubt about who the future winners would be. In others (particularly the two ‘best films’), the race was much tighter, and I had to wait for the last station to vote to find out the final rankings.

Ah, yes… the final ranking, you ask?

Well, it will be announced later live via a videoconference between the participating stations.

Come back later 😉

Edit: You can find the winners here. US station Palmer takes the prize!

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