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Q+A with Arctic Tale Filmmakers
Adam Ravetch and Sarah Robertson

Text by Mary Anne Potts   Photograph by Amos Nachoum
Inset photographs courtesy National Geographic Films

Photo: Diving with walrus
Filmmaker Adam Ravetch approaches a walrus calf.

Photos: Filmmakers Adam Ravetch and Sarah RobertsonFilmmakers Adam Ravetch and Sarah Robertson spent a decade in the Arctic regions of Alaska, Canada, Greenland, Norway, and Russia to shoot Arctic Tale, the new movie shadowing a polar bear cub and walrus calf from National Geographic Films and Paramount Vantage.

Animal lovers, dig in: The mother polar bear and her two cubs in this film are about as adorable as charismatic megafauna get. Their co-stars, a newborn walrus calf and her blubbery, clam-consuming herd, are also undeniably endearing. But it wouldn't be a good wildlife "biopic" (the movie strings together several years of footage to tell a scientifically accurate story) if there weren't a few death scenes.

And beyond telling these young animals' stories through truly intimate footage, the film shows how, when confronted with the brutal realities of climate change, they are making bold choices in order to survive.

Below, read a three-part interview with the filmmakers, a husband and wife team, who spent years in the field to capture never-seen-before moments at the crown of the world.

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See the movie trailer >>

Go to the filmmaker's website >>

Page 2: The Unseen Arctic >>

Page 3: The Casualties of Climate Change >>

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The Secret Lives of Walruses

When was your first cold-water dive? 
Adam Ravetch: I made my very first ice dive for a TV show in 1988 in Quebec's Magdalene Islands. I entered the water through a seal's breathing hole that was only 30 inches (76 centimeters) in diameter. Even though the suit I was wearing was leaking and my buoyancy was off, it blew my mind. Under the ice's surface was a spectacular world of ice corridors—it was like a cathedral.

Why did you choose to focus on walruses? 
Adam Ravetch: Early on, a local Inuit guy told us that if you run into a walrus in the water, get out fast because it might smack you with its tucks, knock off your head, and suck your brain out.

What? Is that just a legend?
Sarah Robertson: No, there are some walruses that do catch seals and basically suck their insides out. These walrus live in deep water where there are no clams. Years later Adam witnessed this technique for himself.

That's pretty daunting.   
Adam Ravetch: It was very daunting, but sort of attractive, too. We did some research and found there were very few films on walruses—and nobody was diving with them. We then started to document their lives.

Photo: Walrus with camera
Did you feel vulnerable as a clunky human around such capable swimmers?
Adam Ravetch: For sure. If you look at the walruses in the water, they're always touching each other. They are very social. My biggest fear is to have a 2,000-pound [907-kilogram] animal hug or hit me. With the polar bears, if we thought the one was overly aggressive, we wouldn't stay in the water with it.

With any underwater photography or cinematography, you need to use a wide-angle lens. And you have to get very, very close. If we thought the animal was too aggressive, we put the camera on the end of a pole.

Page 2: The Unseen Arctic >>

Page 3: The Casualties of Climate Change >>

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