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Josiah Patkotak, Frank Qutuq Irelan, Teddy Kyle Smith, Adamina Kerr, Sierra Jade Sampson ... see more see more... , John Miller , Rosabelle Kunnanna Rexford , Allison Warden , Tara Sweeney , Vernon Kanayurak , Jay Rapoza , Billyjens Hopson , Denae Brower , Richard Enlow IV , Tasha Taaqpak Panigeo , Jerica Aamodt , Gage Saxton , Johnnie Kunaq Brower , Olemaun Rexford , Jack Packer , Thomas Ahtuangaruak Jr. , Robert Allen Brouilette , Katie Roseberry

Shot entirely on location in Barrow, Alaska, On The Ice is the engrossing and suspenseful feature film debut by filmmaker Andrew Okpeaha MacLean about two teenage boys who have grown up like brothers ... read more read more...go about their lives in the comfortable claustrophobia of an isolated Alaskan town. Early one morning, on a seal hunt with another teenager, an argument between the three boys quickly escalates into a tragic accident. Bonded by their dark secret, the two best friends are forced to create one fabrication after another in order to survive. The shocked boys stumble through guilt-fueled days, avoiding the suspicions of their community as they weave a web of deceit. With their future in the balance, the two boys are forced to explore the limits of friendship and honor. -- (C) Official Site

Flixster Users

60% liked it

683 ratings


67% liked it

15 critics

R, 1 hr. 36 min.

Directed by: Andrew Okpeaha MacLean

Release Date: February 17, 2012

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DVD Release Date: August 7, 2012

Stats: 26 reviews


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Flixster Reviews (26)

  • January 11, 2012
    An Alaskan thriller that benefits from its locations and cinematography, efficiently exploring the white vastness of the snow and the atmosphere of isolation. However, the amateurish actors put in weak, irregular performances, while the unoriginal script does not offer any surpri... read moreses.
  • March 30, 2014
    In "On the Ice," Aivaaq(Frank Qutuq Irelan) and Qalli(Josiah Patkotak) are the best of friends while living on the Arctic Circle. At the same time, their lives are heading in vastly different directions. Aivaaq is about to become a father for the first time while Qalli is on a ... read morepath to college. Still, they go to a party together that Qalli leaves early to visit his grandmother(Rosabelle Kunnanna Rexford). When Qalli goes out to meet Aivaaq and James(John Miller) for hunting the following morning, he finds the two fighting which soon escalates into something much more serious. James knocks out Aivaaq with a shovel and tries to kill him which Qalli prevents, accidentally killing James in the process.

    You have to commend any movie that takes us any place that we rarely see to meet people we would never have any contact with otherwise which is what "On the Ice" does quite well. In this Alaskan village, there is a tight-knit community where traditions are starting to fade, just as the youth feel they are trapped by limited opportunities, leading to underage drinking. For the record, this is also kind of simplistic and if you want to shock me with teenage drinking, then you are thirty years too late. But the movie manages to just twist the usual pardigms enough to make it interesting. Just remember. Stay in school and don't do drugs.
  • February 29, 2012
    i like films that look at closely a world in which im not familiar with, and here is a fine example, looking at the alaskan inuit culture, it was made by all locals, so it was good to know that what we saw was probably a pretty accurate depiction of their life, as far as being a ... read morefilm, the story is very good and engaging and kept me interested throughout, the acting may have been a tad off or forced at times, but thats to be expected from non professionals

Critic Reviews

Bill Goodykoontz
March 29, 2012
Bill Goodykoontz, Arizona Republic

The effect is stunningly effective, submerging us in a snowy, frozen, barren land with few options but plenty of opportunities for trouble. It is an offbeat gem. Full Review

Gary Goldstein
February 23, 2012
Gary Goldstein, Los Angeles Times

An authentic look at life in remote Alaska (the film was shot with a native cast in MacLean's hometown of Barrow) and at a people grappling with drugs, alcoholism, poverty and the limits of an unforgi... Full Review

Roger Ebert
February 23, 2012
Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

If only because of the setting, this is an uncommonly involving thriller. I could call it a film noir, except that the sun never sets in the film. Full Review

Sara Stewart
February 17, 2012
Sara Stewart, New York Post

Unfortunately, the emotional landscape of MacLean's stoic main character, Qalli, is often as blank as the tundra. Full Review

Jeannette Catsoulis
February 16, 2012
Jeannette Catsoulis, New York Times

While Mr. Irelan and a few of the supporting players have some solid moments (the entire cast consists of nonprofessionals), the general vibe is too stilted to convince. Full Review

John Anderson
February 16, 2012
John Anderson, Wall Street Journal

A sturdy vehicle for unadorned morality and pragmatic justice. Full Review

Ella Taylor
February 16, 2012
Ella Taylor, NPR

The sympathetic feature debut of a young Inupiat filmmaker, Andrew Okpeaha MacLean. Full Review

Joe Neumaier
February 16, 2012
Joe Neumaier, New York Daily News

If "Ice" never really solidifies, it's nonetheless the work of a filmmaker whose seriousness is worth watching out for. Full Review

Alison Willmore
February 16, 2012
Alison Willmore, AV Club

The film is as much a portrait of a place as it is a narrative, and cinematographer Lol Crawley shoots the white-on-white polar expanses like they're vistas stretching to the ends of the earth... Full Review

Brian Miller
February 14, 2012
Brian Miller, Village Voice

On the Ice is a marvel of concentrated, classical storytelling. Full Review

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