In the Shadow of the Midnight Sun is a creative documentary – and a multi-screen installation – presented through the eyes of a Syrian refugee, displaced from his homeland and now travelling across the Arctic landscape as he tries to come to terms with his feelings of loss and emptiness in this unknown land.
The narrator’s reflections are interwoven with the seemingly disparate lives of those he encounters on his journey: local residents in the village of Sakajärvi and the town of Malmberget who are undergoing their own experience of displacement, a Sami musician who collaborates with him, a Sami farmer who explains how they live in an shifting envrionment, and others who, like him at in search for answers.
As he travels through this extreme landscape of the midnight summer sun and the long winter night, will these new friends help him negotiate his past and discover his own belonging within this new world?
These newly-arrived refugees find themselves thousands of miles from home in the Swedish town of Kiruna which is undergoing its own experience of displacement. Kiruna is home to the world’s largest underground iron-ore mine and tells the story of a sinking town. As the earth beneath the town has become more and more fragile, Kiruna’s 20,000 inhabitants now find themselves being moved 5km from their homes to a “new Kiruna” that is being reconstructed for them. The local residents, whose jobs are predominantly linked to the mine either directly or indirectly, must renegotiate their relationship to the mine which is both compromising and sustaining their lives.
As more and more people are forced into displacement worldwide, and the residents of Kiruna start to reflect on their own situation, the broader questions of sustainability and global warming become evident.
The narrator travels further north to the Abisko Scientific Polar Research Station, a laboratory that focuses its research on climate change and the environment. On a mountain, near the Norwegian border, the scientist Keith Larson investigates the impacts of the warming climate on the flora and fauna. While tourists flock to the other side of the mountain to improve their skiing skills, Keith carefully watches the birds, the plants and the trees.
The narrator continues his journey to listen to stories from the Sami community. With their herds of reindeer and profound respect for the environment, their perception of our changing relationship to the world that sustains us is deeply valued.
The Sami activist and singer, Yana Mangi, looks after over 300 reindeers and travels the world sharing her stories and songs. Through her music and stories, the narrator finds perspectives from different generations about the new and rapidly changing world he finds himself in.
As the narrator continues to battle with the trauma of his displacement, manifesting itself in the darkness of his nightmares, Peter and Eva Armstrand, a Sami couple who practice healing, provide comfort and solace on his journey through the snow.