During Polar Weeks, which are week-long polar events held around the solar equinoxes, APECS members get creative about sharing science with their communities and the broader public. These events are often informal and meant to highlight the most fascinating aspects of polar science and the broader themes that make the subject globally relevant. This year, the USAPECS Board piloted a Virtual Polar Film Fest to harness the power of inspiring and exciting educational videos that are already available online and repackaged them for Polar Week in September 2016.
Video nominations were crowd-sourced from the polar research community. We received more than 100 submissions (already posted on Vimeo and YouTube) of both amateur and professional videos of varying lengths, some of which covered serious topics and others that were more light-hearted (e.g., “Happy Feet”). Videos were reviewed and organized into four themes, each of which was highlighted on a day of the Film Fest: Frozen Worlds, Partly Frozen Mostly Cute, Climate & Connections, and People at the Poles.
During Polar Week, APECS members hosted in-person and virtual watch parties where groups gathered to watch selected videos and/or playlists and discuss what they were watching with APECS experts. In-person watch parties were held in Boulder (CO), Fairbanks (AK), Orono (ME), Whitehorse (YT), Potsdam (DE), and Cambridge (UK). Virtual watch parties were hosted by Alice Bradley, Mia Bennett, Morgan Seag, and David Schutt[AP1] on Twitter using the #PolarFilmFest hashtag[AP2] . Playlists were also widely disseminated to APECS members, APECS partners (including Polar-ICE), and over social media.
Overall, Polar Film Fest videos racked up over 24,000 views, contributing an average of 8% to the total views on the films featured on the playlists. There were 184 tweets using the #PolarFilmFest during the week, with participants from around the world contributing. We hope to run the Virtual Polar Film Fest again, creating new playlists, including more languages besides English, and working with partners to host more exciting events that bring together the arts and sciences!
The 2016 Virtual Polar Film Fest was organized by Allen Pope, Alice Bradley, Ariel Morrison, David Schutt, Olivia Lee, and Alex Thornton with further help from the USAPECS Board and APECS members. If you would like to get involved in future events like this one, please get in touch with USAPECS.