Silent Snow,the invisible poisoning of the world


The Arctic plains are an eminent example of nature’s untouched beauty: an endless nothing in which only few know how to survive. But a silent assassin is destroying the Inuit community in Greenland. Chemical residues from all over the world accumulate here invisibly, poisoning both humans and animals. By ocean currents and attached to snow, pesticides like DDT are carried northbound into Inuit land, causing illness and premature death.


Watch the trailer:


Silent Snow is a documentary project investigating, together with the people who are affected the most, what turns out to be a structural pollution of the entire global environmental system.


The Silent Snow project aims to raise awareness of this problem and consists of both a short and a feature length documentary by Jan van den Berg, educational material for schools and this website. In the short film the subject is introduced by following two young girls in Greenland and the way in which they are confronted with the pollution of their environment.


The feature length documentary continues where the short film has left off. It’s time to go all around the world and find out what is causing this quiet disaster. In the seemingly pure plains of the Arctic a group of experienced Inuit starts out on a dangerous dog-sledge expedition through their barren land. But while the global warming and disappearing icebergs are problems they can perceive directly, the pollution of their land remains a hard to imagine threat.


Interwoven with the polar expedition, Silent Snow follows a young Greenlandic woman (Pipaluk Knudsen-Ostermann) on her journey all around the world to find the local causes of the contamination that is quietly poisoning her people. In three different continents she meets the people behind the sources of pollution and discovers the heartbreaking dilemmas that lie at the heart of it. For example in Africa, where some people are looking for alternatives for DDT, however its grey poisonous clouds are a cheap way of saving millions of lives in malaria prevention. The disastrous health issues that result on the long term are conveniently put aside. While the Inuit would rather deny the problem at hand, it has become her difficult task to convince them of its severity. And while the expedition members’ wellbeing is subject to the condition of their environment, it becomes increasingly clear that their lives are not the only ones at risk in the delicate entanglement of nature and mankind.


Pipaluk Knudsen-Ostermann : “Our life is threatened by dangerous pesticides. They travel up North by ocean currents and winds and have horrifying effects on people’s health, causing all sorts of cancer and fertility problems. As a young woman who would like to have a child in the future, I was very worried and wanted to make this film in order to search for answers and solutions. The work and traveling that I did in order to make Silent Snow really opened my eyes in many ways. I met many interesting and brave people who literally invited me into their living room to tell me their personal stories. These people are living a life influenced by man made threats but they fight and don't give up the dream of a better and healthier life. We are all affected by this pollution, but we can actually fight it”.


Jan van den Berg on Silent Snow: “The discrepancy between the magnificence of this seemingly untouched white land and the steady but invisible destruction of this area by developments elsewhere in the world is the essential drama I wished to capture. Together with Pipaluk, I wanted to find out why this is happening and understand the perspective’s of the different people involved; the victims, the producers, and those who try to fight for solutions”.




The feature length documentary had its world premiere in February 2011 at a conference organized by UNEP in Nairobi. The European premiere will take place at the Movies That Matter Festival in The Hague on March 27th 2011 and will be shown again on March 30th. For more screening dates, click here.



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