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The Most Northern Place tells of a clash of cultures and a conflict about territory during the run?up to the Cold War, which led to the forced relocation of the Inuit population native to the town of Thule by the U.S. Army, circa 1953. Creators Anrick Bregman and Nicole Paglia tell us how they learned about Thule and came to understand life in North Greenland.
What is the most rewarding aspect of being an independent filmmaker?
Nicole Paglia: I appreciate the freedom I have as an independent filmmaker. It can be very difficult at times as you have to constantly find the motivation and resources to go on, but on the up side you don’t have to answer to anyone else’s vision of the project. When things do come together, it is an amazing feeling.
Which filmmaker(s) inspired you to get behind the lens?
Nicole Paglia: There are so many! I have been very inspired by filmmakers like Roy Andersson, Ingmar Bergman, Joel and Ethan Coen, Stanley Kubrick, Wong Kar-Wai, Kidlat Tahimik and Werner Herzog.
Anrick Bregman: In terms of interactive work, I was very impressed with the people at Honky Tonk films in Paris. As well as Jonathan Harris, who has a long history of amazing and unorthodox web-based work. These people, along with The National Film Board of Canada, have really paved the way for people to embrace the web as a platform for documentaries and real-life stories.
Could you list three films or interactive projects that all independent film supporters should take the time to see?
Nicole Paglia: I loved Searching for Sugar Man, The Imposter and The Devil and Daniel Johnston.
Anrick Bregman: Since I am really into interactivity, I’ve focused on some interactive examples of work that really turned my head. Projects like Bear 71, Prison Valley, Journey To The End of Coal, I Love Your Work and Forget Me Not are really inspiring and all of them tackle stories with interactivity playing a central role. It’s exciting to see the browser used for something unexpected and I hope over time people will see much more of this type of film.
What do you hope the audience comes away with after seeing your interactive short?
Anrick Bregman: What we’re telling in both the film and website is a simple story about a small town in an unlikely setting. We tried to create a way for people to feel like they are really there, in Northern Greenland. I think we were hoping people would just come away with a little more understanding of a place and a people that they might have never heard of before.
Nicole Paglia: I hope the audience would be inspired to learn more about Greenland and the fascinating history and politics there.
What sort of research did you conduct to prior to shooting the film?
Nicole Paglia: I have been researching the politics of Northern Greenland since 2001, when I first read an article about Thule. I was living in Sweden at the time, which made it a bit easier to find source material. I made frequent trips to Denmark to visit libraries and meet journalists. I have trawled through archives all over the world and made a lot of interesting connections with people over the Internet. Over the years I have accumulated a bookcase full of books on the subject. I still get excited when I find a rare document that I have been looking for!
How did you engage members of the community to share their experiences concerning relocation?
Nicole Paglia: I had the good fortune to meet people that were willing to share their experiences quite openly and frankly. There is always an issue of trust in documentary filmmaking, and I went in braced for the possibility that no one would want to talk to me. I was also quite lucky that my third cousin, Joel Åsblom, was able to travel to Qaanaaq with me as he is born in Greenland. His familiarity with the country and language was invaluable.
What was the most rewarding aspect of making The Most Northern Place?
Nicole Paglia: I have been involved in this project for so long, it feels incredible that it is now possible to share it.
Anrick Bregman: It is always hard but ultimately, rewarding, to make something you believe in. And as Nicole said, to make something without an outside interest to answer to. It’s very hard sometimes when you’re right in the middle of things to see the light at the end of the tunnel. But if you keep pushing and keep believing you will come out with something.