Beautiful scenery and down-to-earth, funny characters make 40 Below and Falling
3D well worth watching—though the word ‘falling’ refers more to love than
Kate (Jewel Staite), a teacher in a northern village, is heading home to be married.
On the day she’s about to leave, she wakes up to the effects of a massive snowstorm.
The only way out is on skidoo—manned by the antisocial and strappingly handsome
Redford (Shawn Roberts). After Redford begrudgingly accepts to take her and they
journey together through all form of peril, Kate’s feelings for her fiancé begin to
“Kate is really finding herself,” explains Edmonton-based director Dylan Pearce.
“Sometimes life will push you in one direction, but it’s up to you to take that chance.”
Being raised by his mom and sisters gives Pearce insight into the female psyche. He
acknowledges all of his major projects have been female-driven: for example, Baby
Blues, nominated for Best Picture in the 2008 Alberta Film Awards, explored a
woman’s reconciliation with her past. His latest projects focus on romantic comedy.
Pearce was thrilled to work with 40 Below screenwriter Aaron James Sorensen—a
role model of his since film school. Alberta’s Sorensen wrote the award-winning
Hank Williams First Nation, a tale of everyday life on a northern First Nation, and
challenged Pearce’s belief that it’s difficult to create a feature film in Canada. “He led
me to believe that all this was possible,” Pearce says.
Filming in Jasper and outside Edmonton, they had to bring their own snow in due to
unexpected heat. The 3D effect “is a creative tool that we use much like sound or
light,” Pearce explains, and one he hopes draws the viewer further into Kate’s world.
As a winter lover who recently camped in -20 C in Jasper, I was eager to see how
Kate and Redford managed. My own memory is of many, many layers and a constant
struggle to stay moving and warm.
However, in 40 Below, Kate makes it through the first part of their trip in a cream-
coloured pea coat and fashionable lilac hat; she later dons Redford’s snowsuit, but
no one seems to need to cover their face. Nor do they mind crashing into a frozen
lake and being completely naked afterwards. To show off his chiseled abs, Redford
actually strips down and jumps in a second time.
For me, though, this was all part of the film’s charm. Like in Hank Williams First
Nation, the characters in 40 Below are genuine: at one point, Kate tells Redford she
moved up north because she wanted to make the community better. People do, and
they fall in love with the new life they’ve created just as Kate does.
It is enough to make Kate and Redford connect. In this way, Pearce and Sorensen
have captured a bit of life in northern Canada—and what it feels like to discover
deeper meaning when you don’t expect it.
40 Below and Falling 3D runs on Saturday, Oct. 3 at 4:30 during the Edmonton
International Film Festival. Pearce and other members of the film crew will be present
to answer questions after the show.