Each winter in Ely, Minnesota, a crew hikes out on a frozen lake to cut thick blocks of ice from its surface. They transport the thick chunks to storage, where they are stacked, covered with sawdust and preserved for the rest of the year, a once-necessary cooling method that is seldom used today. The team is made up of dozens of people, some of whom have been committed to the cause for decades and others who have joined in the last year or two Will Steger.
Produced by Gravity films and directed by Nathaniel Schmidt“Ice Ball” accompanies the crew over two seasons while they endure sub-zero temperatures, a typical condition for Minnesota winters, which made filming a special challenge for the explorers sustainable enclave in the northern forest. The short documentary sheds light on the community that has gathered around Steger since his Arctic expeditions and documents their dedication to more sustainable ways of life.
As the devastating effects of the climate crisis accelerate, historical methods such as iron harvesting reduce reliance on carbon-based energy sources and offer an urgent alternative. “All of the ice shelves that I have traveled to in the polar regions in the north and south are no longer there. We are in this crisis now, humanity and the planet. We have to be innovative, and that’s what it’s all about, ”says Steger.
Corresponding Short of the week, Schmidt is currently working on a full-length documentary about the life of a Wiradjuri woman. It’s scheduled for release next August, and in the meantime, you can find more of his work Vimeo.
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