Dr. Nadja Albertsen is the ESA-sponsored medical doctor spending 12 months at Concordia research station in Antarctica. She facilitates a number of experiments on the effects of isolation, light deprivation, and extreme temperatures on the human body and mind. This blog entry is translated from her original in Danish.

The Antarctic Film Festival has two categories – the open category, where you can submit pretty much anything as long as you can keep the movie under 500 kb, and the 48-hour category, where – surprisingly – you only have 48 hours to make a film according to certain requirements. The demands this year were that the films should not exceed 4 minutes and should contain an pick axe, a scientist, the sound of a boat horn and the phrase “not a knife – THIS is a knife” from the movie Crocodile Dundee.

We heard from previous crews in Concordia that the film festival can bring things to a head and put relationships on ice: it can be hard to agree on how the films should be made and what to include with such little time. The film festival takes place at a time when people may already feel the pressure of the long winter and isolation, you can imagine that the temperament can flare up.

Fortunately, under the expert guidance of the glaciologists in the Antarctic autumn, we had already made a short film for the open category and quickly agreed on what the film for the 48-hour competition would be about. So the movie for the open category became a Concordia version of the Miami Dolphins Cheerleaders’ video for the song “Call Me Maybe” and the movie in the 48-hour category tackled harmonious conditions in the base – illustrated by pillow fights, food fights, snowball fights, food laxatives, phone call sabotage and whatever else we could think of to share the fun and harmony we enjoy.

The movies were super fun to make (I can’t remember when I was last in a pillow fight) and the results were actually pretty good – so good in fact that we won the open competition! WOOP! (It should be noted that the “Call Me Maybe” movie has the original cheerleader version running on the left side – and since there are far more men in Antarctica than women, it may have provided some cheap points – but all is fair in war, love and movies…)

It was quite fun and enjoyable to watch the films from the other bases. They were creative and great and many were really impressive (some were very surprising or simply weird)! We saw them gathered in our living room, equipped with candy and cake – our chef tried to make popcorn, but it proved to be impossible – perhaps because of the low air pressure? Maybe because even popcorn corn can get far too old?

The films we saw had subjects such as time travel, murky disappearances, aliens, Snow White and the 7 dwarves and mysterious mass murderers found on the ice.

Ours film can be found on vimeo.com or via Italy antartide’s facebook page. Our video in the open competition (the one that won) is called “Call Me Maybe” and the other film (which certainly became number 2 in the 48-hour competition) is called “In the name of Concordia”.

Enjoy! And remember the popcorn and eat one for me!

As always, I run out of space faster than I expect, or I have more to say than I expected. But in the end, I want to give an update on the potato sprouts that we are trying to grow – I know you are waiting with restrained breath and sweaty palms for an update – are they still alive?

Concordia potatoes to be. Credits: ESA/IPEV/PNRA–N Albertsen

Two of the sprouts are now absorbing sun rays from 07:00 and most of the morning until the Sun moves to another side of the base.

However, this one plant looks a little life-threatened – perhaps a consequence of me sometimes forgetting to put my exercise shoes outside the door. Their last companion was moved to the living-room in August to disperse some spring, but has since been sent to the pace where potato go when they die – possibly because we gave the plan a little too much ‘loving care’ in the form of “mud” compost from our digester that breaks down much of the food waste…