Synopsis by Josh Ralske
Filmmaker Greg Stiever's documentary, Poles Apart, tells the story of polar explorer Ann Bancroft, and how she assembled a team of women to traverse Antarctica on skis, without dogs, machines, or men. The expedition took place in 1992, and Stiever uses video footage and still photos of the trip, excerpts from Bancroft's diary, and interviews with the team to document the event. Bancroft carefully assembled her team, consisting of herself and three other women, only to see one of the women drop out after a grueling practice trip across Greenland. Veteran mountaineer Sue Giller was the navigator, expert skier Anne Dal Vara was on the team, and Bancroft, forced to come up with a replacement for the fourth team member, chose Sunniva Sorby, who was younger and less experienced than the other team members, but had a very positive attitude. The team ran into trouble trying to get corporate sponsorship for their trip. They went to about 250 corporations, with little success. The corporations were reluctant to fund them because they didn't think the women would make it. There was also homophobia involved, as at least one member of the team was an out lesbian. With a surprising amount of support from grassroots private donors, the team sets out on their journey. Stiever contrasts the camaraderie and teamwork of the women with the more competitive attitude of a two-man British team engaged in a similar trek. "Their approach was more to conquer," says Sorby, "and ours was more to experience."