Review: North of the Sun
Back in January I checked into the Adventure Travel Film Club at the Picture House in Piccadilly. Here's my review of the experience of seeing one of my favourite surf films in a one of a kind experience.
Sticky floors, noisy neighbours and slightly dodgy seats unite budget coach journeys and your average high street cinema in one cold, hard fact. Neither are suitable places to watch a film.
Especially a film as remarkable as North of the Sun. Yet sadly, I was on a sleep deprived coach to Scotland when I first discovered Inge Wegge and Jørn Ranum’s 45 minute ode to surfing and the simple life. Despite the unfavourable surroundings, I fell in love with the documentary, which was filmed in an unknown location over nine months in 2011/2012. The stunning cinematography, minimalist score and pure adrenaline captured by the two film students as they surfed midnight seas in deep Norwegian winter is spellbinding.
So imagine my giddy excitement when I discovered that the Adventure Travel Film Club were hosting a screening of the film in The Central Picture House in London, a cinema with enough character to make going to the movies an event again. If I liked it that much on a stale coach, how much would I love it in the plush surroundings of Piccadilly? Throw in an exclusive interview with one of the filmmakers and a wall to wall selection of Pick and Mix and I was sold.
Fairly new to the world of adventure, and even more blue regarding adventure travel films, the Adventure Travel Film Club promised both. I wasn’t too sure what to expect. Was it to be a bunch of the BBC’s finest cinematographers huddled in a corner discussing gear? Or was I about to enter a room full of pro surfers, polar explorers and all round adventure types, turning up in snow shoes and climbing harnesses just because they could? Luckily, it was neither and as I picked up my ticket from the designated team I instantly felt ‘ok’ to be there and ‘ok’ to not really know much about either Adventure or Travel or Film. Popcorn on one hand and a ticket in the other, I took my seat and tried to contain my excitement.
North of the Sun itself focusses on two twenty somethings taking off in favour of a simple life spent surfing by the sea. Sounds more like a lottery win than an adventure film, right? What about if I told you they planned to construct and live in a house from scratch, made out of refuge they find in the bay. Bit more like it right? How about adding in the fact that Norway’s surf season starts in September and lasts through the winter. And so do they. Suddenly Inge and Jørn’s idyllic plan sounds more like a sequel to Cast Away with a Surf’s Up twist. Most of all, it sounds fricken’ cold!
Yet, the magic of North of the Sun is that for a film which provokes the average response of “F*ck me, they must be freezing”, it is the warmth of the story that stays with you. From the stunning scenery to the onomatopoeic score, the surfing stunts and contagious enthusiasm, North of the Sun captures the uniquely human aspects that makes any adventure worthwhile. The remarkable nature of Inge and Jørn is simultaneously out of this word and yet wholly accessible. Yes, I did think “I could do this…” more than once and yes, you will think it too.
I already loved the film but the experience offered by the Adventure Travel Film Club helped me share that love with others. The central Location of the Picture House carried a luxurious feel which contradicted the simple stripped back nature of the film gorgeously. The swagger of plush seats, HD screens and fresh, warm popcorn elevated the experience of North of the Sun and gave the film the recognition it deserves. In a world of bad rom-coms, cheesy horror and remake after remake, the Adventure Travel Film Club is giving exposure to filmmakers and adventurers whose stories deserve to be shared. For that I am grateful and excited to see what’s next. Whatever is on their schedule, my days of film watching on coaches are numbered.