Is dog sledding culture today dead or alive?

Arctic Nomads is about a young sled dog musher from Greenland, with experience in mushing a dog sled, looking after the dogs, catching/providing food, as well as training the dogs. She has the equipment it takes to be a complete musher and is even able to make much of it herself. She shows and tells us how she works with the dogs; we investigate who taught her and why it is that she still mushes a dog sled when she could be driving e.g. a snow scooter instead.

The development of the dog sled was crucial to the success and survival of the Inuit in the tough Arctic nature. The dog sled was used for hunting, fishing, and for transport over long distances in a close cooperation between the musher and his dogs, and skills were passed on from generation to generation. Today, the number of sled dogs in Greenland is on a drastic decrease and they are increasingly becoming a means of recreation for tourists, who consider them an exotic feature in everyday life. What does our musher think about that? Is she worried, is she proud, is she strong? What challenges are facing the mushers of today’s Arctic?

The documentary focuses on knowledge, tradition, and development of dog mushing, not to mention the encounter between our musher and other Inuit. The material part of life with sled dogs, such as clothing and equipment, is underlined through shoots of the Inuit themselves, in which they describe each individual part and what it is used for.

In order to visualize the differences and similarities between past, tradition, and presence, the documentary contains film historical clips showing sled dogs and dog sleds from the visited regions. The clips also highlight the similarities and differences in equipment between the different regions, as well as in their way of keeping and using the sled dogs.

The film soundtrack is a reflection of the silence and peace that the musher carries within, and which she experiences when working with her dogs, driving through the big landscapes. Our focus is on real sounds: The sound of sled runners against snow, ice, and rocks in the landscape, the cracking of the whip, and the creaking of the sled all contribute to that special atmosphere experienced by the musher. The musher’s commands and calling of the dogs are also an important part. The voice-over narration of the musher carries the film forward.

The film is accompanied by music and background music from modern Greenlandic singers and artists, such as opera singer Ida Heinrich, the rock band Inuit Feet, and Danish contrabass player Jakob Kragesand. This underlines the modern and living in the ancient dog sled culture, as well as to create a contrast between old knowledge and present conditions and choices.

 

Production: Nebula

Script and idea: Pipaluk Lykke Løgstrup

Director: Johannes Ujo Müller

Camera/Sound/Light: Anda Hansen

Young dog musher: Navarana Lennert

Graphic design: Ivalu Risager

Music: Ida Heinrich, Kristian Mikkelsen, Jakob Kragesand