Climate change is a critical scientific and social issue that confronts today’s world. Nowhere are the consequences of a warming climate more pronounced and observable than in the polar regions. The documentary Frozen Obsession, shot in 4K, follows the 18-day, 2,000-mile Northwest Passage Project expedition through the stunningly beautiful and extreme Canadian Arctic aboard the Swedish research icebreaker Oden.
For centuries sailors were obsessed with finding a path across the mostly frozen Arctic. Now, scientists are racing to understand a warming Arctic, and how these environmental changes will affect all of Earth’s inhabitants. With support from the National Science Foundation and additional support from the Heising-Simons Foundation, the innovative Northwest Passage Project (NPP) consists of a team of scientists, education professionals, a journalist, an Arctic scholar, and 23 graduate and undergraduate student science majors.
During the expedition the NPP team studies water chemistry, microbiology, birds, marine mammals, and physical oceanography – all in radical transition due to a warming Arctic climate. In addition to documenting at sea research, Frozen Obsession explores the rich cultural heritage and natural history of the region. The expedition visited an Inuit community to see first hand how the Arctic’s indigenous people are coping with climate change, the graves from the doomed 19th century Franklin sailing expedition, and areas teaming with wildlife. The film also explores the geopolitics of the Arctic, as increasing resource extraction, commercial vessels, cruise ships, and military patrol craft now traverse this once isolated region.
As Frozen Obsession bears witness to a dramatically changing Arctic and the urgent efforts of science to understand the consequences, the public can gain a sobering assessment of what’s at stake. However, in a hopeful turn, the film also witnesses the exhilarating life-changing experiences of the participating students, who represent the next generation of scientists and decision makers and who will surely make a difference in the world.
The documentary will be broadcast by PBS in 2021 and viewed by the public at special screening events at each of the Northwest Passage Project partner institutions. Other screening events will be held at Penn State and the Richmond Virginia Environmental Film Festival.
Frozen Obsession Screening Dates
Links are to register for that screening. All screenings are free.The 60 minute version of the film will be screened unless otherwise noted.
The Exploratorium – Wednesday, January 27, 4pm PST
University of Illinois at Chicago – Monday, February 1, 5pm CST
Florida International University – Thursday, February 4, 6pm EST
California State College Channel Islands – Monday, February 8, 6pm PST
City College New York – Thursday, February 11, 4pm EST
Virginia Commonwealth University and Richmond Virginia Environmental Film Festival – Friday, February 12, 6:30pm EST
-The full 100 minute version of the film will be screened at the film festival
Penn State University – Tuesday, February 23, 5pm EST
University of Rhode Island – Thursday, February 25, 3pm EST
Alaska Sea Life Center – Monday, March 1, 5pm EST
Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, Film – week of March 1 & Panel – Thursday, March 4 at 5pm EST
David Clark, Producer/Director
Bob Elfstrom, Co-Director, Cameraman
Duncan Clark, Director of Photography
Ray Day, Soundman/DIT
Bruce Elfstrom, Line Producer
Juliana Hanle, Associate Producer
Hester Blum, Arctic Literature, Pennsylvania State University
Sarah Scriver, Arctic Guide
Edward Struzik, Arctic Journalist, Yale Environment 360