DER Documentary

At the Spring Sea Ice Camp

From the Netsilik Eskimo series
directed by Quentin Brown
ethnographic direction by Asen Balikci
color, 81 min, 1967

At the Spring Sea Ice Camp Part 1

At the Spring Sea Ice Camp Part 2

At the Spring Sea Ice Camp Part 3

Non-profit, K-12, and Individual pricing also available
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About At the Spring Sea Ice Camp

Part 1, color, 27 minutes - launch preview watch a preview
Two Eskimo families travel across the wide sea ice. Before night falls they build small igloos and we see the construction in detail. The next day a polar bear is seen basking in the warming sun. A woman lights her seal oil lamp, carefully forming the wick from moss. The man repairs his snow goggles. Another man arrives dragging a polar bear skin. The boy has made a bear-shaped figure from snow and practices throwing his spear. Then he tries his bow. Now, with her teeth, the woman crimps the sole of a sealskin boot she is making.

Part 2, color, 27 minutes - launch preview watch a preview
The men are hunting seal through the sea-ice in the bleak windy weather. The wind disturbs the "tell-tales," made of eider down or a hair loop on a bone, that signal when a seal rises to breathe. A hunter strikes, kills and drags his catch up and away. At the igloo the woman scrapes at a polar bear skin and a man repairs a sled. In the warming weather the igloo is topped with furs and a snow shelter is built to hide the sled from the sun. Now a seal is skinned, the polar bear skin pegged out to dry, and the people stop for a snack of good red fish from the cache.

Part 3, color, 27 minutes - launch preview watch a preview
The hunter is traveling alone with sled and dogs. There is a sharp sound and he sees a ground squirrel, sets his snare and soon catches it. He kills it by crushing the skull with his foot, leaving the skin undamaged. Skirting bare ground, he comes to a fish cache and loads his sled, feeding the dogs some morsels. The sled appears to drag, even on the harder snow of the sea ice. In camp a woman sews, a girl hangs fish on a line, and all stop to eat. Now the disintegrating skin sled is dismantled and the polar bear skin serves for conveyance. They break camp, moving ashore to put up their tents for summer.

About the Netsilik Eskimo series
These films reveal the live reality of traditional Eskimo life before the European acculturation. The Netsilik Eskimos of the Pelly Bay region in the Canadian Arctic had long lived apart from other people and had depended entirely on the land and their own ingenuity to sustain life through the rigors of the Arctic year. The filming was done during the summers of 1963 and 1964 and in the late winter of 1965 under the ethnographic direction of Dr. Asen Balikci of the University of Montréal, assisted by Guy Mary-Rousseliere, O.M.I., both anthropologists of wide Arctic experience. Quentin Brown was Producer-Director, and Kevin Smith the Executive Producer for the series.

other films in the Netsilik Eskimo series:
At the Caribou Crossing Place
At the Autumn River Camp
At the Winter Sea Ice Camp
Jigging for Lake Trout
Group Hunting on the Spring Ice
Stalking Seal on the Spring Ice
Building a Kayak
Fishing at the Stone Weir

Related Films
Alaskan Eskimo series
Through These Eyes

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