Sunday, February 20, 2011

Best First Feature at the Berlinale

Aarigaaaaa! We wanted to share the incredible and very unexpected news that we won the Best First Feature at the Berlinale last night. We competed against 33 other feature films and couldn't be more thrilled. More pictures are on the way to us, but in the meantime here is a fun one of Andrew, Qutuq and me at the press conference shortly after the ceremony. Thanks so much to everyone at the Berlinale, especially everyone from Generations!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Berlin's Crystal Bear for Generations 14plus!!!

We won the Crystal Bear at the Berlinale!!!!! Such an incredible surprise! Our friend Martin took a millions pictures but we just need to get them off his camera and we'll put them up. In the meantime here are two press releases about it:


Prizes and Juries in the Generation section

A number of different prizes are awarded in the sections competition programmes Generation Kplus and Generation 14plus, both to short films as well as feature films. Three juries cast their votes.

Prizes of the Generation 14plus Youth Jury

Awards 2011: On the Ice, Apflickorna, Manurewa, Get Real!

The members of the Youth Jury Generation 14plus, Faysal Asfaha, Jonathan Curio, Theresa Greiwe, Leonie Goebel-Künnecke, Roberta Huldisch, Oskar E. Levis und Tara Mauritz, give the following awards:
Crystal Bear for the Best Film
On the Ice
by Andrew Okpeaha MacLean
This film had us in its grip from the very first moment and it never let go, right up to the end. Between solitude and endless expanses, a stifling and constricting atmosphere has been created, using simple means. Our winning film took us off to a world that was totally unknown to us. A world where everything seems submerged in darkness, even though the sun never goes down.
Special Mention
by Lisa Aschan
Showing your feelings makes you vulnerable. And being vulnerable makes you lose control. A game of love and power. A film that is confusing and disturbing, chilling and startling, it triggers an avalanche of thoughts and questions but also some answers.
Crystal Bear for the Best Short Film
by Sam Peacocke
In a very short time this film synthesises and skilfully compresses independent story lines and characters, merging them together into a single irrevocable, ever-changing moment. Our winning film is not only about perpetrators and victims, but also about human beings.
Special Mention
Get Real!
by Evert de Beijer
Aggressive, innovative and explosive. An attack on the senses. A film constantly walking the tightrope between deviance and brilliance. Hectic sequences of colour and plot and a wealth of detail. We have never seen a film like this before.


On The Ice wins Berlin Crystal Bear for Generation 14plus

Andrew Okpeaha MacLean’s thriller On The Ice has taken the Crystal Bear for best feature film in the Berlinale’s Generation 14plus section.

The members of the youth jury were: Faysal Asfaha, Jonathan Curio, Leonie Goebel-Künnecke, Theresa Greiwe, Roberta Huldisch, Oskar E. Levis and Tara Mauritz.

Of On The Ice, which premiered at Sundance and is being sold internationally by Coach14, the jury said: “This film drew us in from the first minute and remained gripping right up to the very end. Here, between solitude and endless expanses, a stifling and constricting atmosphere is created using simple means. Our winning film took us off to a world that was totally unknown to us. A world where everything seems submerged in darkness, even though the sun never goes down.”

A special mention went to She Monkeys (Apflickorna) by Lisa Aschan from Sweden.

The Crystal Bear for the best short went to Same Peacocke’s Manurewa from New Zealand, with a special mention to Dutch short Get Real! by Evert de Beijer.

The awards were presented tonight at Berlin’s Haus der Kulturen der Welt, followed by a screening of On The Ice.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Coach14, Berlin

Hi everyone!

We're getting ready to head to the Berlinale (Berlin Film Festival) next week for our international premiere and we're thrilled to report that we'll be working with Coach14, our new foreign sales company. Andrew and I will be traveling there on Monday and if all goes well with their rush passports, Frank Qutuq Irelan and Josiah Patkotak will be joining us as well. I'm pretty sure it will be Josiah and Qutuq's first time in Europe so it should be exciting to experience it together. Stay tuned for pictures of us eating schnitzel in the snow.

Not sure how much time we'll have outside of festival stuff, but does anyone have suggestions on what we should try to see in Berlin?

Can't wait to premiere on the 15th! If you have any friends in Berlin our screenings are:

February 15th - 8pm at the HKW theaters
February 16th - 4:30pm at CinemaxX theaters
February 17th - 5:30pm at the HKW theaters

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Twitch Film review

Sundance 2011: ON THE ICE Review

by Ryland Aldrich, January 27, 2011 5:15 PM

One of the keys to the success of Sundance 2010's Dramatic Grand Jury winner (and Oscar nominee) Winter's Bone was its ability to tell a captivating story set in a world so rarely depicted on screen. That film brought us into the deep Ozarks to get a glimpse of a way of life familiar to few. This is exactly the case with one of this year's Grand Jury hopefuls, Andrew Okphea MacLean's crime drama, On the Ice, which trades the back woods of Missouri for the high northern Arctic of Alaska. MacLean's impressive debut feature keeps the audience fully engaged in its characters' central conflict, while simultaneously introducing us to their fascinating frozen world.

On the Ice tells the story of two best friends on the verge of adulthood: Qalli (Josiah Patkotak) and Aivaaq (Frank Qutuq Irelan). Qalli is considering leaving his small town for college while Aivaaq contemplates starting a family with his newly pregnant girlfriend. These plans get severely complicated when an early morning hunting trip with their friend James turns violent. In an attempt to save an incapacitated Aivaaq, Qalli stabs James with Aivaaq's knife, leaving James dead, but unintentionally leaving Aivaaq thinking he committed the murder. The boys cover up the crime, setting off a chain of events that engulfs the community and puts their futures and friendship in peril.

MacLean shows incredible maturity for a young writer/director. His characters are nuanced and his story very tight. The complex plot decision to leave Aivaaq in the dark about the true source of James's death is handled very well and leads to some original drama. Patkotak and Irelan turn in impressive performances for first time actors. Though actually separated by 9 years and growing up over 500 miles apart, the two play off each other with a comfort and conflict of boys who have known each other since birth.

A quick Google mapping of Barrow, Alaska, shows just how remote the film's location is. At 320 miles north of the Arctic Circle, Barrow is one of the northernmost communities in the world. There are no roads in or out of Barrow and the claustrophobia is unmistakable. This isolation plays a dual role in the film. MacLean does an excellent job of exploring how an isolated community is affected by a tragic event and how the guilt of their crime isolates the boys from their community at such an emotionally crucial time.

The real success of the film comes in the taste it gives us of what life is like for kids growing up in this environment. Hip hop music and culture plays a big role in the film. Aivaaq refers to their crew during a freestyle rap as arctic thugs. This sets up an interesting juxtaposition of urban values in a decisively rural setting. MacLean raises questions about the acceptance of violence and drug use in a small community, while avoiding any urge to hit the audience over the head with a message. This film tells a captivating story in a fascinating new setting and points to very promising things to come from MacLean.

[ Ryland Aldrich is a freelance writer and filmmaker based in Los Angeles. He blogs at ]

Click HERE for full review within Twitch Film site

Screen International Review

On The Ice

Dir/scr: Andrew Okpeaha MacLean. US. 2011. 96mins

There’s more than folklore and ethnography at work in Andrew Okpeaha MacLean’s drama On The Ice about young locals who dress like rappers and race around on snowmobiles in a tiny windswept community.

On The Ice is striking in its portrait of youth in the world’s northernmost city.

On The Ice has taut suspense and a stark visual beauty, but it is likely to be viewed as a well-made novelty with a non-professional cast that won’t get exposure beyond festivals and art houses. That said, it is also an eloquent calling card for a gifted young director and cinematographer.

In On The Ice, a teenager in an arctic native community is killed and his body is submerged below the ice. When the corpse returns to the surface, so does the secret of his death.

In Barrow, 515 km north of the Arctic Circle, swaggering Aivaaq (Frank Qutuq Irelan) has dreams of being cool and important. But his girlfriend is pregnant and he has no livelihood, and he fights with rival James (John Miller) when his peers mock him.

Heading out on a seal hunt on the ice beyond their town with Qalli (Josiah Patkotak), another friend, Aivaaq fights again, and James is killed. It is an accident, but the young men hide his body beneath the ice and return to town. Eventually the corpse reappears and the truth is reconstructed.

On The Ice is striking in its portrait of youth in the world’s northernmost city, who share much with kids their age anywhere – vulnerability, vanity, and aimlessness, as drugs find their way to the remote North.

Yet the specific location of On The Ice in a vast place without vegetation means that secrets don’t stay hidden for long in a community of a few thousand that dispenses justice in its own way.

The director, who founded a theater group in remote Barrow, gets solid performances out of his mostly non-professional cast. Frank Qutuq Irelan is cocky as Aivaaq, the scrappy would-be thug who fights to protect his “street” reputation in a town without a paved road. Josiah Patkotak plays the shy Qalli, who’s haunted by his role in the death on the ice. The suspense builds deftly as a growing number of the townspeople sense that haunting.

The drama is framed by the remarkable work of cinematographer Lol Cawley (Ballast, Better Things), who shifts between the shadowy claustrophobic town and the vast radiance of the landscape beyond it. Meeting the logistical challenge of shooting in Barrow is an achievement in itself. Cawley has made this low-budget film look as grand as its surroundings.

Click HERE for full review online

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

San Francisco Film Society review

Published January 25, 2011

Finding an Arctic Outpost in Park City via 'On the Ice

Yesterday, my first full day on the ground in Park City, started with a whimper and ended with a bang. In the morning I passed the time by taking in back-to-back press screenings. The Music Never Stopped is a tearjerker about a chronic amnesiac who reconnects with his father by listening to Grateful Dead records with him. After that, against my better judgement, I wandered into Kim Jee-woon’s I Saw the Devil, a depraved revenge thriller touted as “one of the most graphically extreme films ever committed to film.” Ravaged and craving nuance, my relief was palpable as I took my seat at the world premiere of On the Ice. A festival insider gave me the poop that this film is an early favorite to win the Grand Jury Prize in the Dramatic category. Like last year’s winner Winter’s Bone, On the Ice sets its universal story within a landscape and culture that is exotic to most viewers. In the arctic outpost of Barrow, Alaska, one of the northernmost cities of the world, three teenaged Iñupiaq boys get into trouble out on the ice and only two of them return. The web of deceit they weave to cover their tracks sends shockwaves through the small town. Immensely appealing performances by the nonprofessional cast and a script that’s tight as a drum leads me to place my bet on this film to be a breakaway favorite both on the festival circuit and beyond. At the post-screening Q&A first time director Andrew Okpeaha MacLean assembled his cast and crew, most of whom had just seen the finished film for the first time. The two young leads Josiah Patkotak and Frank Qutuq Irelan grinned and clapped each others shoulders and jabbed fists. It was easy to see that the experience of making this film had bonded them for life.

Michael Read, Publications Manager, San Francisco Film Society

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Film Threat review

4 Stars
Year Released: 2011
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Running Time: 96 minutes
Click to Expand Credits:

Following two teens, Qalli (Patkotak) and Aivaaq (Irelan), as they respectively prepare for college and fatherhood, the film takes a suspenseful turn when a fight with a third boy leads to an accident which leads to a death. Immediately, all future plans these boys had are now in jeopardy. Things begin to crumble both around them and between them as Qalli’s father, a search and rescue officer, comes closer and closer to discovering the truth: that the boys tried to cover up their unfortunate accident and frame the young man’s death as a reckless self-imposed misfortune.

MacLean’s thriller is a straightforward genre work in the best ways possible. Following classic plot conventions, the writer/director is able to keep the tension levels high while introducing or guiding audiences into a society often glanced over in Hollywood. This isn’t The Edge. It isn’t 30 Days of Night, either. On the Ice centers itself in an Alaskan community that isn’t often represented cinematically. The story isn’t about Americans (or vampires) against a snow-covered backdrop. Rather, MacLean delivers an effective and informative tale about the people of Barrow, Alaska, the northernmost city in the United States.

There are a number of notable elements at work in the film. Both Patkotak and Irelan give tremendous performances which give some heft to an otherwise conventional script. The white-heavy cinematography surrounds the suspenseful plot in a gorgeous frame. And the editing (and of course, the writing) keep the narrative moving at a brisk enough pace where the plot points come quickly enough while still giving ample amounts of time for character development, exposition, and proper setups for subsequent plot twists. Altogether, MacLean’s first narrative feature is a successful “weknowwhodunit” with enough differences from comparable films to stay interesting and compelling.

Posted on January 26, 2011 in Reviews by Scott Knopf