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‘Exposure’ Takes Viewers to Climate Change Ground Zero

‘Exposure’ Takes Viewers to Climate Change Ground Zero



STORY BY KAREN BOSSICK

PHOTOS BY RENAN OZTURK

A jovial Muslim chaplain, shy French marine biologist, and a determined princess from Qatar are unlikely candidates for skiing across the melting Arctic Sea Ice to the North Pole.

But against all odds these and eight other women achieved their goal, their story chronicled in the new documentary film “Exposure.”






 

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Team members prepare their sledges.
 

“This could be the last team ever to make an over-ice expedition to the top of the world because the Arctic Sea ice is degrading every year,” said filmmaker Holly Morris.

“The COVID-19 pandemic wiped out the polar season in 2020 and 2021. And the conflict between Russia and Ukraine has meant that ice station Barneo, which sits in one of the northernmost inhabited places on Earth, cannot be built, cancelling all attempts at the Pole.”

“Exposure” will be screened at 7 tonight—Thursday, March 31—at the Sun Valley Opera House as part of the Sun Valley Film Festival. After the Idaho premiere, Holly Morris and others will answer questions. Film Festival passholders, as well as those who have purchased individual tickets, are invited to view the screening. www.sunvalleyfilmfestival.orgOr at The Argyros which serves as the box office for Film Festival.

Felicity Aston, a British explorer, initiated the 100-kilometer expedition in April 2018. She was the first woman to solo ski across Antarctica. The journey covered 1,744 km and took 59 days. She suggested that women from both the West and the Arab World would be sent on an expedition to the North Pole. Morris quickly signed on.






 

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Teams of team members drag equipment behind them across a vast expanse of white.
 

“Given the climate crisis, I knew this team might be the last to have a real shot at reaching the North Pole. It was definitely the toughest production I’ve been involved in but the cinematographers—Kathryn Barrows and Ingeborg Jakobsen–were amazing,” said Morris.

The trio spent three years following the women, from training in a 105-degree desert in the Arab World to making it to the Arctic at 39 degrees below.

The 11 women explorers chosen to take part in the expedition were not only inexperienced but they weren’t even athletes.

“Part of the bedrock values of this film was that as women we can do more than we think we’re capable of, and that comes through in the film,” said Morris. “These women came together to achieve something no one thought could happen.”






 

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Russian air support was crucial to the expedition.
 

Morris climbed the New York City skyscrapers’ stairs to prepare. A woman who lived in Oman’s desert learned how to use a freezer. A woman from England also pulled tires through Manchester’s streets.

They faced everything, from polar bear threats to 60-mile-per hour winds to frostbite. They dealt with self doubt and cultural conflicts.  

There weren’t any snowmobiles or dogsled teams to haul gear. Instead, the women pulled sledges loaded with equipment behind their skis.

To keep their batteries warm, the two camera women strapped their camera batteries to themselves. They took off mittens only when they were absolutely necessary. However, they kept their gloves on to protect themselves. It was difficult mic-ing the women when they were so covered up, and the camera women had to deal with the constant hiss of camp stoves which couldn’t be turned off because they were the difference between life and death.






 

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The expedition was made up of members from both European and Arab countries.
 

Because the drone camera was so far north, it made it difficult to fly.

“We see a scene in the movie where the ice runway broke in half. The Russians were using a drone to see the crack and they kept losing it because of the magnetic interference,” Morris said.

Morris stated that the Russians were invaluable in cooperating with Morris. They not only dropped their team onto the ice, but also picked them up at end.

“Every year they build an ice runway out there so planes bringing expedition scientists can land,” Morris said. “We were the last group to go.”

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Morris stated that it was quite chilling to travel over ice that was melting beneath them.

“We all know climate change is happening, but seeing people trying to cross open water, seeing ice crack in half really brings climate change to life. Sometimes we see it abstractly, but not emotionally. This film is extremely emotional.”

This certainly wasn’t Morris’s first expedition. She was a presenter on PBS’s travel series GlobeTrekker, and Adventure Divas. This series took her around the globe, including Borneo, where she hunted wild boar with tribesmen, and Switzerland, where she climbed Matterhorn short-roped to become a fourth-generation Swiss guide.

She reported about the Iran’s illegal caviar trade for National Geographic Explorer and India’s sex trafficking trade for PBS.





Her feature film “The Babushkas of Chernobyl,” about a defiant community of women who live inside Ukraine’s radioactive Exclusion Zone, won the Jury Award for Directing at the Los Angeles Film Festival and the One-in-a-Million Award at the Sun Valley Film festival.

Morris is done shooting at the North Pole. Her next film will likely be in lower temperatures. But she hopes “Exposure” will help others come to see that regular people can achieve something remarkable.

“When women believe in themselves it can be catalytic,” she said. “My hope is that this will light a fire under women in terms of leadership, especially climate action.”





 

 

 

 










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