Festival films

Canada Vertical

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Director: Laurent Poliquin / CAN / 2023 / 44 min /

By means of skiing, canoeing and cycling, this 8-month expedition covered an area equivalent to 19% of the Earth’s circumference. The journey ranks as one of the longest wilderness expeditions in Canadian history.

After years of preparation, they left the northernmost island (Ellesmere) of the country and skied 1,600 km south on the ice floes of the Arctic Archipelago. After 64 days of a gruelling polar expedition hauling heavy sleds, they reached their first milestone: the Northwest Passage. Polar bears, freezing temperatures, whiteout conditions, injuries and self-doubt were constant struggles, making this leg the most challenging experience Nicolas and Guillaume had ever lived.

Winter gave way to the arrival of summer as they hauled canoes across the melting Arctic Ocean to reach the mainland. They then began a monumental 2,000 km canoe trip across Nunavut, the Northwest Territories and Saskatchewan, most of which was upstream and completed in 90 days. The team had to be creative and resilient in dealing with melting and raging rivers, equipment failure, windstorms, food shortages and numerous reroutings. They finally reached the first road to northern Saskatchewan, where the two friends parted ways with their canoes and hopped on their bikes.

They then embarked on the final leg of this never-ending odyssey: pedalling 4,000 km to reach Canada’s southernmost point 44 days later in Ontario. Beyond the physical challenge, the aim behind the AKOR expedition was to broaden our knowledge of the northern natural wonders and provide a humbling and refreshing perspective on how people dream their next adventures, far from the well-documented routes.