Science documentaries focusing on climate change in Antarctica, with gorgeous images of cerulean icebergs and throngs of wobbling penguins, are not exactly rare these days. Dena Seidel’s Antarctic Edge is the latest among them, and while it’s not as mesmerizing as last year’s Antarctica: A Year on Ice, it dives deep into the important science being done on waters and islands surrounding the frozen continent.

In particular, Seidel’s film focuses on a ship full of scientists as they journey for a month to study ecosystems on Antarctica’s western edge, an area that’s seen a dramatic rise in temperatures in recent years. The nerds use crossbows to shoot whales for biopsy samples, they venture to rocky islands to weigh penguin chicks, and they do experiments with buckets of krill pee. Their main aim is to understand how warmer waters, and a lack of winter sea ice, are affecting the area’s food chain, which plays a gigantic role in how the planet is able to take carbon from the atmosphere and bury it at the bottom of the sea.

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While the beginning and end of the film vent frustration at America’s unwillingness to tackle climate change head-on, Seidel is mostly interested in following the nerds. Watching them do their “sweet, sweet science” during 18-hour workdays is eye-opening, if not exactly entertaining. It’s a shame that none of the scientists — even the one who wears a coconut bra to appease the “weather gods” — has Bill Nye levels of charisma, as that might help the science shine a bit more to the layperson. On the other hand, Seidel deserves props for not just shooting pretty pictures of ice and slapping science-related interviews over them. Her lens finds passion on the front lines of a global struggle, and it’s easy to imagine some young person seeing this film and thinking, “Someday, I’m going to be an oceanographer, whatever that is.”

Antarctic Edge is playing at 5 p.m. at the University of Minnesota’s Northrop Theater.


(credit: Film Society of Minneapolis St. Paul)

(credit: Film Society of Minneapolis St. Paul)

Other Highlights For Wednesday, April 22

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Me and Earl and the Dying Girl (Alfonso Gomez-Rejon, USA) An art-house-obsessed teenager who dodges commitment whenever he can is forced by his mom to hang out with a girl recently diagnosed with cancer. The film, with loads of charm and just as much heart, follows their friendship as it comes face-to-face with death, and grows beyond. (7:00)

Finding Gaston (Patricia Perez, Peru) The goal of internationally-celebrated chef Gaston Acurio is to export the unique flavors of Peru to the world. This adoring film tells his story while also documenting how the beloved cultural ambassador is currently working to improve all aspects of Peruvian life that revolve around their colorful and delicious-looking cuisine. (3:15)

In Order of Disappearance (Hans Petter Moland, Norway) A tale of vengeance in the nanny state of Norway. A snowplow driver seeks to get even when he discovers his son was murdered. During a manic spree of violence, he faces off against enemies like a vegan gangster and a Serbian mafia boss. The bodies fall like snowflakes. (9:45)


For the festival schedule, and a complete listing of all the movies being shown, click here. Ticket information is available here.

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Throughout the entirety of the 2015 Minneapolis-St. Paul International Film Festival, will be spotlighting one notable movie each day, along with other notable screenings. To see’s complete coverage on the MSPIFF, click here.

Jonathon Sharp