Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Americana Up North

Northern Light (2013) - Bentgen
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If one must categorize Northern Light, a new documentary from a talented director/producer team Nick Bentgen and Lisa Kjerulff, it could be regarded as a sports movie - the trials and tribulations of two snow mobile racers. Silently following them and their families' daily lives between two racing seasons in economically depressed Northern Michigan, the filmmakers here achieve something more than a mere doc about I-500 (the grueling 500 mile endurance race in the snow and ice which in itself alone can easily be worthy of a cinematic subject). Bentgen possesses a painterly eye and visual grace scarce in documentary filmmaking and zen-like patience and maturity in acutely sketching out this side of Americana- rarely in films, driving through a snow storm, a lone street lamp, a white breath of a silhouetted hunter looked this beautiful. Native to the region, Bentgen understands his subjects and surroundings, and knows when and where to place the camera. What Bentgen accomplishes here is showing that the I-500 is a metaphor for dashed hopes and dreams of not only the enduring inhabitants of Northern Light, but of all of us.

After making a World Premiere at True/False Film Festival in March, Northern Light is making an appearance at Hot Docs in May 1st. Please check for more updates on