Longyearbyen, a Bipolar City


June 7 – June 13, 2021

Landscape 1 <i>Longyearbyen, a Bipolar City</i> [Longyearbyen: İki Kutuplu Şehir] (2016) filminden bir kare ©Artcam Production
Still image from Longyearbyen, a Bipolar City (2016) ©Artcam Production
Longyearbyen, a Bipolar City (2016)
Director: Manuel Deiller
52 minutes
English, French; Turkish and English subtitles

Located in the Arctic’s Svalbard archipelago, the Norwegian city of Longyearbyen has been extracting coal for one hundred years as a source of energy and income. The city is named after the American timber and mineral developer John Munro Longyear, who was one of the two cofounders of the Arctic Coal Company, which became the area’s first working industrial coal operation in 1906. Today, Isfjorden (The Ice Fjord) northwest from Longyearbyen hasn’t been ice-covered mid-winter for the last ten years. Researchers point out that the fjord’s marine life is changing from the Arctic to the Atlantic climate zone. The rapidly changing climate in Svalbard has caused the local population many problems in recent years. Higher temperatures and increased rainfall have resulted in more avalanches.

Longyearbyen, a Bipolar City captures Svalbard’s local elections as the price of coal decreases, community members realize that the dire need to discuss sustainable development is now more critical than ever. Through interviews with officials and locals, Deiller probes into the environmental paradoxes of the city and the consequences of these. For scientists, politicians, and city locals, Longyearbyen is now facing a race against the clock.

SALT’s Is this our last chance? program is supported by its founder, Garanti BBVA. The films will only be accessible to online audiences in Turkey.