NIGHT AND DAY: The extremes of natural light

“Night and Day” takes an up-close look at how light affects people living in the Nordic Region. Through interviews shot over two brief periods – one in midsummer, one in midwinter – the film will graphically capture the psychological changes caused by the presence or absence of light in a person’s life. 

The subjects of the film will be ten ordinary citizens: doctors, teachers, engineers, writers, stock traders, musicians, plumbers, etc. Like most people in the world, the basic facts of their lives – their jobs, homes, and relationships — don’t change from winter to summer. But as the amount of light shifts from one extreme to the other, the experience of daily life can change dramatically. 

Around the world, people understand the effects of darkness and daylight. The rhythms of sleeping and waking. In spring, happiness spreads; in summer, energy abounds; and in winter, the body and mind tend to slow down. But few places experience light like Scandinavia, where over the course of six months, the landscape swings from hot, sun-bleached summer days to the long, cold midnight of winter months.

When the sun is high in the sky, Scandinavians live outside. The parks turn into open air cafes. Every bench is filled with people soaking up the warm, fresh air. But when winter arrives and the sun disappears, it takes with it the very energy of the people themselves, and leaves behind a dark and quiet world. 

By interviewing our subjects first in early December, and again late in June, we’ll try to capture the dramatic changes that light causes in both the physical environment and the human psyche. The questions we ask at both times will be similar, but the answers, we know, will not. By using carefully considered backgrounds, we’ll be able to “code” the responses of the different subjects as “night” or “day,” letting the viewer gauge the changes people undergo from June to December. 

Meanwhile, we’ll also seek out psychologists and neurologists to help us understand what’s happening. They will tell us what light does physically to the human body, and how it affects the human mind. We’ll also talk with people who live elsewhere, and don’t think as much about light or don’t imagine it changes them at all. 

Through all of it, “Night and Day,” will examine how Scandinavians experience light. They have a relationship to light and its absence that relatively few people share, and it’s one that’s worth exploring.