Manitoba-made documentary explores the Arctic on iconic icebreaker

Have you ever wondered what sound the country’s most famous ice breaker makes powering through the water at the top of the world?

Breaking Ice: The Arctic Uncovered trailer released last week at northern scientists conference

The Manitoba-made documentary Breaking Ice: The Arctic Uncovered released its first trailer last week. (Christopher Paetkau/Sira Chayer/Submitted to CBC)

Have you ever wondered what sound the country's most famous icebreaker makes powering through the water at the top of the world?

A new documentary and virtual reality tour from a Manitoban filmmaker takes the viewer where very few people in history have ever been.

The first trailer for Breaking Ice: The Arctic Uncovered was released last week in Winnipeg to 700 people at ArcticNet 2016, the largest single gathering of scientists focused on the rapidly changing Arctic.

"To have a favourable reaction there was a very positive experience," said co-director Christopher Paetkau.

The documentary, which was also directed by Sira Chayer, takes the viewer onto the iconic Amundsen icebreaker, which is on the back of the Canadian $50 bill, as it travels into the Canadian High Arctic and explores the dramatically changing landscape.

"It is the most surreal and serene environment, especially when all you see in front of you is just ice and this ship is charting its course through," Paetkau said.

It's both enormous and delicate because of the power of the boat and the fragility of the melting ice, he explained.

"When you are just isolated and you are on a ship and it's just ice, you wonder how this is even possible. It's a pretty cool thing," he said.

The documentary explores the Arctic and its dramatically changing landscape. (Christopher Paetkau/Sira Chayer/Submitted to CBC)
To make the film, Chayer spent six weeks on the icebreaker and Paetkau spent three weeks on board. They explored the Arctic alongside the scientists and were welcomed into Inuit communities who call the region home.

While the natural beauty shown in the documentary will likely evoke awe and wonder, Paetkau said there are also a lot of emotional moments from the scientists.

"They are scientists, it's a natural thing to be on the quantitative side of things but they are human beings and there is a qualitative element to who they are and how they operate in a situation like that," he said.

"What they have to sacrifice and what they have to do to make it work so that the rest of us can benefit from what they are studying."

Director Christopher Paetkau says it also explores the emotions of the scientists. (Christopher Paetkau/Sira Chayer/Submitted to CBC)
The film is the duo's first feature-length and Paetkau said they were able to pull it off thanks to organizations like Telefilm Canada, On Screen Manitoba and ArcticNet.

While the trailer was released last week, Paetkau said the full film will not come out until next year. He said they plan to release it at ArcticNet 2017 in Quebec.