In April 2043, astrobiologist Xue Noon [Victoria Hunt] finds herself stranded in the GAIA International Antarctic Station. As the polar night closes in, she connects herself to the Ai-system. She scavenges digital memories and archives of the time she spent at King George Island with her father back in 2015. She struggles between her scientist mind and her Indigenous soul. She looks for old friends, places, atmospheres, only to find herself again. Nightfall on Gaia is a speculative documentary that depicts the lives and visions of human communities living transiently in the Antarctic Peninsula. Grounded in ethnographic fieldwork conducted in Antarctica between 2011 and 2014, the film is an experimental meditation on the future of the Antarctic as a new extreme frontier for human habitation, exposing the complexities of a fragile planet at the verge of ecological collapse, our relationship to the Ice, and the uncertain future for the region.
I have lived most of my life at latitude 33˚South. First in Buenos Aires (1971-1980), then Santiago (1980-1982 & 1986-1998) and Sydney (1998-2015). Antarctica was always somewhere inside there when growing up in the turbulent 1970’s and early 1980’s in Chile and Argentina. But in 2010 while recovering from surgery I became fascinated by Antarctica again. In 2011 I began discovering polar latitudes both south and north. New worlds opened up which led to a brusque change in the orientation of my work. Four years in the making and after three summer expeditions to the Ice, Nightfall on Gaia was completed. In these years I have learned that Antarctic communities are not locally rooted in places, but translocally routed across places. There is an emergent Antarctic culture which is not place-bound (roots) but are mobile in nature (routes). They derive their identity from connections to a variety of places and they come here to Antarctica to explore the elusive qualities of this place … always in a constant process of becoming otherwise and elsewhere as people come and go and ecosystems change. The stories about this place and people, about its animals and icebergs, microorganisms of soil and ocean are told in the mode of a speculative fabulation. This is just one possible story so far. It proposes an alternative realism where fact and fiction converge to bring into dialogue the probable, the possible and the preferred futures for this southern polar region. as a speculative documentary film it attempts to open up what documentaries can do: not only a creative treatment of actuality to represent the past and document the present, but a creative treatment of possibility to speculate about possible and desired futures.
Official Festival Screenings and Awards
RAI International Ethnographic Film Festival Bristol June 2015
Antenna International Documentary Film Festival, Sydney, October 2015
MIDBO Muestra Internacional de Documentales de Bogota, November 2015
CPH:DOX Copenhagen International Documentary Film Festival November 2015
Barcelona Planet Film Festival February 2016
Winner Best Documentary Feature Film