Antarctic Traces

Approaching the mysterious, inaccessible realm via the few traces that are currently available. At the same time, revolving around the desolation and devastation that humans have left in their treatment of it. Michaela Grill devotes herself to these two tasks in Antarctic Traces, a splendid, thoroughly composed study of the most mysterious of all continents, or rather, the supplements of it that are accessible. For one, there is the rough landscape of the coast of South Georgia, a group of islands located off of Antarctica, which Grill examines in what are mainly still frames. For another are the (largely black-and-white) archive images in which the thematic focus of the film, the history of whaling since the late nineteenth century, are historically embedded. And there is also a narrative elaborately woven from numerous literary sources, spoken from off screen and interlaced with subtle sound inserts, that allows this highly abject episode in humanity´s exploitation of nature to become present: the industrial slaughter of seals, sea elephants, and primarily whales until into the 1970s, which took its brutal course in the waters of the south Atlantic. In an alternating rhythm of still images, minimally moving pictures, and individual camera pans, Antarctic Tracess divulges a mosaic-like tableau of a "dead, chilly world": glaciers, skeletons, industrial ruins, and rusted ships bear witness to the uncompromising eagerness for power of the "whaling industry." Presently populating the landscape of "scarred" wasteland are penguins and seals as hangers-on who just won´t die. As a whole, Antarctic Traces creates a disturbing portrait of a deadly peace that humans have caused in a remote area of the earth and seas. Traces of a ruinous freedom, which is profoundly rooted in nothing. (Christian Höller) Translation: Lisa Rosenblatt

Orig. Title
Antarctic Traces
Austria, Canada
30 min
Michaela Grill
Orig. Language
Michaela Grill
Sound Design
Nick Kuepfer
Sound Mix
Steve Bates
Michaela Grill
Elizabeth Anka Vajagic
Speech Manager
Steve Bates
Supported by
CINE ART, Wien Kultur MA 7, BKA - innovative film
Available Formats
Digital File (prores, h264) (Distribution Copy)
DCP 2K flat
Aspect Ratio
Sound Format
Frame Rate
25 fps
Color Format
colour, b/w
Festivals (Selection)
Graz - Diagonale, Festival des österreichischen Films
London - BFI International Film Festival
Gijon - International Film Festival
Jihlava - East Silver Market