By Erin Free

Year:  2024

Director:  Nathaniel C.T Jackson, James Blannin-Ferguson

Rated:  TBC

Release:  From July 14 (New Zealand), From August 11 (Australia)

Distributor: Screen Inc.

Running time: 90 minutes

Worth: $18.50
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Lisa Blair, Jessica Watson, Dick Smith

A thrilling portrait of a truly extraordinary woman, Ice Maiden is documentary filmmaking at its best.

The story of Australian solo sailor Lisa Blair was practically begging to be given the big screen treatment, and this incredible tale of tenacity, persistence, bravery, effort and profound personal risk has thankfully found its facilitators in the very happy form of co-directors Nathaniel C.T Jackson and James Blannin-Ferguson. Making their feature debut here, this dynamic duo feel far more accomplished in their understanding of film language, likely born of their extensive work in advertising and educational documentary. Ice Maiden is so accomplished and cinematically thrilling that it feels like the work of far older and more experienced heads.

Ice Maiden is the is the highly compelling, white-knuckle tale of almost unnaturally determined and feisty Aussie solo sailor and adventurer Lisa Blair, who daringly and against all “good advice” circumnavigated Antarctica on her own, non-stop, and with no physical assistance. From raging storms and near fatal prangs with hulking ships sharing the seas to crushing moments of personal doubt and constant danger, it’s a profoundly cinematic tale of near crippling anxiety, but also of hope and inspiration, as the tough, non-nonsense Lisa Blair throws herself at everything thrown in her way with a resolute brand of uncompromising determination that would do any top-tier sportsperson proud.

A very strong example of the “after-the-fact” documentary, Nathaniel C.T Jackson and James Blannin-Ferguson cannily build their film through a variety of means, incorporating talking head interviews (there’s a really great haul here, with big name adventurers like Jessica Watson and Dick Smith providing fascinating perspective, and Lisa’s mother and sister delivering the kind of lovably down-to-earth commentary that only family members can), effectively artful and gripping re-enactments that are fittingly abstract and always remain utterly authentic, and Lisa Blair’s own video footage, which jangles between truly terrifying, quietly haunting, and deeply moving. When grouped into one absorbing whole, the final result is truly bracing, with Lisa Blair’s own force-of-nature personality holding it all together like hard-forged steel. A thrilling portrait of a truly extraordinary woman, Ice Maiden is documentary filmmaking at its best.

Ice Maiden will release around Australia in August. Click here for more information about Ice Maiden.


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