“The Sun At Midnight”, a feature film shot entirely in the Northwest Territories, was awarded the top prize at the Bentonville Film Festival in Arkansas on Saturday.
Director Kristen Carthew’s film took home the juried prize for best narrative at the festival, which comes with international distribution help from AMC Theatres and Walmart. Co-founded by Geena Davis, the Bentonville Film Festival is an annual event which showcases and champions women and diversity.
Filmed in the Arctic Circle, “The Sun At Midnight” tells the story of an unexpected friendship between a hunter obsessed with finding a missing caribou and teenage rebel who gets lost while on the run.
“One of the reasons I wanted to make the film [in the first place] was because I really love the Northwest Territories,” Carthew tells CBC. “I’m really proud to be from the North and I’m really proud to be able to share this film.”
The film has already been screened at festivals including in Beijing and at the Whistler Film Festival where star Kawennarhere Devery Jacobs took home the award for best performance in a Canadian film.
For Carthew, the win in Bentonville came as a surprise.
“I was completely in shock,” she says of the award which was presented to her by Meg Ryan. “I just felt kind of overwhelmed because I really, really wasn’t expecting it. I heard my name get called and I leaned over to the people sitting next to me and said, ‘Is that me?'”
The filmmaker has a broken ankle and hobbled her way to the stage to accept the award with the help of crutches.
“I felt a little bad for Meg Ryan who had to sort of stand there for, I don’t know, seven minutes while I made my way to the stage,” Carthew explains. “I was hoping that one of the benefits of taking so long to get to the podium would mean that I could come up with something brilliant and articulate. That was not the case.”
Carthew used her acceptance speech to tell the Arkansas audience about her homeland.
“I think I did right by Northerners,” she says. “I basically used my presentation time to give a geography lesson of where the Northwest Territories is.”