Under An Arctic Sky
arts & culture

Under An Arctic Sky

Surf the Greats in partnership with Burkard Studio presents the screening of 'Under An Arctic Sky'. Join us for a special night of celebration of cold water surfing and adventure as we welcome Chris Burkard to Toronto for the first time.

The film follows six surfers along with adventure photographer Chris Burkard and filmmaker Ben Weiland as they seek out unknown swell in the remote fjords of Iceland's Hornstrandir Nature Reserve. Chartering a boat, they depart from Isafjordur on the cusp of the largest storm to make landfall in twenty-five years. With the knowledge that storms bring legendary swell the crew are optimistic, but face failure when the storm forces them back to shore. Making the decision to carry the expedition on by road they experience the brutality of Iceland's winter and begin to question if searching out the unknown is worth risking their lives for. Despite setbacks the team pushes on and finds that uncertainty is the best ingredient for discovering the unimaginable.

Under An Arctic Sky by Chris Burkard in Toronto

How did the film come to fruition?

Under An Arctic Sky was years in the making. While the trip didn’t take place until December 2015, Chris Burkard and his long-time collaborator Ben Weiland knew they had an important story to tell that transcended surfing. After numerous trips to arctic regions like the Aleutian Islands, the Kamchatka Peninsula and the Faroe Islands they knew they wanted to focus on more than just surfing in their next film. Elli Thor Magnusson, an Icelandic photographer and Chris’ good friend, had told Chris of a remote region in the Northwestern-most part of Iceland that he was eager to explore for new waves. With surf culture becoming more mainstream and brands catering to a larger audience, Chris and Ben saw the perfect opportunity to usher audiences back to the excitement of the sports adventurous roots. When the swell finally showed promise - Chris and crew departed to Iceland, just as the worst storm in twenty-five years approached.

Under An Arctic Sky by Chris Burkard

Why suffer through such cold conditions just for a wave?

Whenever you ask someone what they picture when they think of a surfer they’d probably say a long-haired blonde kid from Southern California. There’s this stigma that the best places to surf are in warm, tropical places. This isn’t entirely true. Sure you can go to Hawaii and surf the North Shore, or Australia and watch perfect waves curl in crowded line-ups, but this isn’t what attracts people to surf. Big wave surfer and cold-water pioneer “Doc” Renneker says that it wasn’t about finding a perfect wave but that “surfing was just an excuse to get to these incredible places”. There’s so much joy when you find success after going through the proverbial (or in our case literal) storm. When you go to these places, there aren’t thousands of people onshore watching, or fifty surfers fighting for one of the many perfect waves, it’s just one or two surfers out in the wild having fun and enjoying the beauty around them. The water may be 34ºF, it may be snowing and miserable 99% of the time, but we go for the 1%, when everything comes together and we’re surfing a mushy wave under the northern lights with our best friends. In the end, that’s what matters - those singular moments that we can look back on and say, “ya, that was all worth it”.

What are your hopes for the film moving forward?

Ultimately our main goal is getting as many people to see the film as possible. Directly after the Tribeca release we’ll be touring the film across North America, beginning on the West coast. We’ve been getting incredible feedback form fans around the world asking for us to come to their cities to show a premiere so we intend on doing just that. Thanks to a successful Kickstarter campaign we’re incredibly excited to share that we’ll have the means to travel all over to screen the film. In September we’ll launch the international tour which will run throughout Europe, Australia and South America as well as select countries in Asia. After the initial tour has subsided we’ll release a digital download that will be available across multiple platforms.

Chris Burkard Chris Burkard is an accomplished explorer, photographer, creative director, speaker, and author. Traveling throughout the year to pursue the farthest expanses of Earth, Burkard works to capture stories that inspire humans to consider their relationship with nature, while promoting the preservation of wild places everywhere.

Layered by outdoor, travel, adventure, surf, and lifestyle subjects, Burkard is known for images that are punctuated by untamed, powerful landscapes. Through social media Chris strives to share his vision of remote places with millions of people, and to inspire them to explore for themselves.

Along with his team, Burkard is based out of his production studio and art gallery on the Central Coast of California. At the age of 30, Burkard has established himself as a global presence and influencer. He is happiest with his wife Breanne raising their two sons Jeremiah and Forrest in his hometown of Pismo Beach, California.

Under An Arctic Sky by Chris Burkard in Toronto

The screening is part of 'Under An Arctic Sky' world tour and Chris Burkard will open the night with a presentation about his work, followed by a Q&A. In addition, we will screen two local short films on Great Lake surfing: On Days Like These You Must Surf by Jake Kovnat & Sweet Water by Andrew Wyton.

This event will sell out, so get your tickets now and join our community of local surfers, paddlers and adventurers to celebrate our love for cold water!