Joe Penna Arctic

Joe Penna Arctic

A nail-biting tale of heroism set against a stunning glacial backdrop.

Cast: Mads Mikkelsen
Director: Joe Penna
Rated: M
Running Time: 97 minutes

Synopsis: A man stranded in the Arctic is finally about to receive his long-awaited rescue. However, after a tragic accident, his opportunity is lost. He must then decide whether to remain in the relative safety of his camp or to embark on a deadly trek through the unknown for potential salvation.

Release Date: February 14th, 2019

Director's Statement

Nothing registers the fragility of a human quite as starkly as the sight of a mere dot ambling through an endless ocean of white snow. Nothing represents endurance quite as vividly as an individual trudging through a howling gale, barely visible through heavy spindrift.

The tundra is exactly where Arctic needed to be set. The harshest survivable environment on Earth.

Despite all that – to me, this film is not (or at least not only) a parable of man against nature. Arctic is about the endurance of altruism even under extreme circumstances.

From early on, it was imperative for Overgård – the main character – to be portrayed deliberately as a stencil of a person. We see no flashbacks of his past life… no Polaroids of his family... not even a glint of a wedding ring.

Overgård isn't a man in search of meaning, or belonging, or redemption for past transgressions.

The character of our hero can be gleaned solely from the actions he takes in response to the crises he is currently encountering. It's a story that takes place purely in the moment.

The distinct lack of explicative dialogue encourages us to lean closer and attempt to decipher each minute facial expression. Perhaps even arriving at different conclusions than the person sitting next to us. His radical isolation may be terrifying to him (and to us), but he simply has too much to do to risk self-pity. His silent competence and insistence on a routine is ever laudable.

One thing is clear throughout the film – though his resolve may waver, our hero forces himself to march on. Even as his hopes of survival quickly dwindle, he perseveres.

At first, our immediate fascination will leave us trying to determine what we would do if faced with the adversity of our beleaguered protagonist.

After that, I hope Overgård inspires us to carry a bit of his courage out of the theater with us.
– Joe Penna

About Production

Our shoot was taxing, both physically and mentally.

We dealt with winds upwards of 30-40 knots. Freezing rain. Snowstorms. Road closures. Equipment trucks being stuck in the snow far down the road. Then, melting snow toward the end of the shoot. Doors coming unhinged from cars, taken by the wind. Throughout production, the conditions changed just about every hour, destroying continuity of weather.

Despite the brutal conditions, the entire crew was undaunted. Nimble. Mads especially.

One specific shot comes to mind: Overgård is nearly a kilometer away from camp, walking back to camp over a frozen lake. Snowmobiles weren't allowed on the lake at the time, so it was a half-hour trudge through the snow just to get to his mark. Any assistant wearing a red parka would have sufficed… but Mads remained steadfast in his commitment to being in every frame of the film. We handed him a walkie-talkie, and off he went.

That shot is by far my favorite of the film.
– Joe Penna, Director/Writer

Arctic was a very challenging movie. It was scheduled to be a 20 day shoot in the highlands of Iceland, in the middle of winter. This meant that we needed to shoot in whatever weather god gave us, which was tough on both actors and the crew and keeping continuity was nightmare. But somehow, we managed to make everything work. Another challenge shooting this movie was to make it look as though the character was alone. With virgin snow everywhere you looked, it was difficult to manage the sets so that they would not look like there had been 20-30 crew-members walking everywhere!

I shot Arctic on ArriMini with the new Cookes anamorphic lenses. This combination worked nicely in the great vista of Iceland.
– Tómas rn Tómasson, Cinematographer

Release Date: February 14th, 2019