By turns a thrilling sports film, an ethnographic portrait of Mid-West ruralites, and an essay on bodies and human ambition, Nick Bentgen's film would feel like a breakthrough even if one were only looking at its veiled observations of gender roles, with the women seemingly cast aside as workman's assistants and cheerleaders, until they aren't. The final shot, showing a basic workout routine, is a stunning image in its own right, and is as pointed and in-your-face as any closing statement I've seen all year, if only for the audacity of ending this film on that note.
The top 5 films to see at Hot Docs 2013, Blake Williams, BlogTO, April 24, 2013
Northern Light is more than a sports film. The racing isn’t glorified. It is presented frankly with classical music swirling in the background. In a Q&A after the premiere, Bentgen says, “We shot it in the same way we shot family life; I wanted them on equal footing.” Snowmobiling is the characters’ passion and not their lives. It shows a family at its best and its worst through a gifted filmmaker’s eye. If the characters don’t grab you, the stark beauty of each shot will.
- by Mike Pottebaum, Vox Talk Read the entire review HERE.
NORTHERN LIGHT interweaves the lives of three families in the northwoods of Michigan. Set against the backdrop of a town's annual snowmobile race, this cinematic, observational documentary explores the American working class experience. As racers and their families pin their hopes to a 500 mile-long test of endurance, small triumphs and giant sacrifices are made along the way. From a frozen corner of the country emerge three American families.