On the Ice


Apuna and Miqu have grown up together in the tight-knit Iñuit village of Barrow, Alaska, the northernmost community of the United States. They have been best friends since nearly birth, their bonds only strengthened by the tragic history they share when, at the age of seven, Apuna accidentally caused the death of Miqu’s father. Since then their lives have gone in different directions, though they remain as close as ever. Now they are seventeen—Iñupiat boys growing into manhood in a world equally as influenced by centuries-old traditions and values as it is by urban hip-hop culture and snowmobiles.

Apuna is finishing high school, and considering leaving the village to attend college, far to the south. Miqu’s girlfriend has just become pregnant, and he is thinking of dropping out and dealing pot to support himself and his new family. But that is the future. For now their lives continue day to day in the comfortable claustrophobia of an isolated town where everyone is somehow related to just about everyone else. And then, everything starts to unravel in a seeming instant.

Late one Saturday night the boys are hanging out drinking at a local house party. Apuna leaves early to visit his grandmother, but Miqu stays behind with their friend Taqi to continue partying, and agrees to meet early the next day for a seal hunting trip out on the frozen Arctic Ocean. The next morning, Apuna follows their snowmobile tracks out on the ice, and when he finally sees Miqu and Taqi in the distance, theyseem to be fighting. Apuna watches in horror as Miqu, high on crystal meth, stabs Taqi to death. Seeing no alternative, Apuna helps his friend hide the body by sinking it into the ocean through a crack in the ice. They head back to town, stunned and terrified, and attempt to pass off the death as a tragic accident.

The death of Taqi throws the town, and the lives of the two boys, into turmoil. They are forced to deal with the suspicions of the local police, the grief and anger of Taqi’s family and friends, and their own crushing sense of guilt as they try to get away with murder. Though the town rallies behind the two boys, and the body stays conveniently missing, the lie eats away at them. Miqu becomes more and more unstable, and their friendship grows strained as Apuna tries to hold both of their lives together. Just as they seem to be getting away with it, while on a hunting trip with Apuna’s father, Taqi’s body resurfaces, forcing them to come to terms with what they have done and make a decision that will define the rest of their lives.

Screening Details

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