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Inuit on Celluloid - Inuit Film Series

Inuit on Celluloid - Inuit Film Series

Venue: Scott Polar Research Institute Lecture Theatre, Lensfield Road
Time: Lunch-time, Wednesdays 1-3pm, Lent and Easter terms 2007

Further information contact: e-mail: mt443@cam.ac.uk or telephone: 01223 336569.

This fortnightly series of movies and documentary films explores the changing portrayal of Inuit on the big screen over the past century. Ranging from artistic brilliance to occasional dross, the first five films in the series are an expression of how Inuit have been represented, or have represented themselves, to the wider world. The final three films are ethnographic documentaries filmed in the 1960s, with Inuit re-enacting the lives of their ancestors.

January 24 - Nanook of the North (1922)

In 1920, filmmaker Robert Flaherty made a "photoplay" about life in the Hudson Bay region of the Canadian Arctic. As his subject, he cast the Eskimo hunter Nanook and his photogenic "family". This pseudo-documentary follows the lives of this group of Eskimo, as they hunt for food and deal with day-to-day life in this harsh environment. Nanook, the star of the film, died of starvation only two years after shooting was completed, a fact that strengthens the film's extraordinary impact. (Allakariallak, Nyla, Cunayou).

February 7 - Map of the Human Heart (1993)

When a half-Inuit boy, Avik, travels south to seek medical attention, it marks the first steps in an epic personal journay. In Montreal he meets Albertine, a half-Indian girl with whom his life will be forever linked. The film follows Avik through Second World War Europe, and his return to a very different Arctic. (Jason Scott Lee, Anne Parillaud, Patrick Bergin).

February 21 - Shadow of the Wolf (1992)

Starring a cast of Native American, American and Japanese actors, this is the story of Agaguk, a young Inuk struggling to come to terms with his alcoholic father. Together with his wife, Igiyook, Agaguk faces the ferocity of the police, the savagery of wolves and bears, and the mystical powers of his father. (Lou Diamond Phillips, Toshiro Mifune, Jennifer Tilly).

March 7 - Heart of Light (1998)

This is the story of a Greenlandic family torn apart by conflict between past traditions and the modern world. A young man goes on a killing rampage before pointing the gun at himself. Grief, disgrace and shame invade the world of those left behind, and the father of the killer leaves the village on a broken dogsled. He encounters an old hermit who magically takes him into the past. It is a perilous journey between a stark reality and a mystical world in search of an inner compass. (Rasmus Lybeth, Vivi Nielsen, Anda Kristiansen).

April 25 - Atanarjuat (2001)

The first ever Inuit film to receive a theatrical release, Atanarjuat is an epic piece of storytelling. At the dawn of the first millennium evil in the form of an unknown shaman divides a small community, and two brothers rise up to challenge this order. The film was shot in Igloolik, utilising local cast and crew, and was winner of the Cannes Camera D'Or for Best First Feature Film. (Natar Ungalaaq, Sylvia Ivalu, Peter-Henry Arnatsiaq).

May 9/23/June 6 - Netsilik (1963/1964/1965)

These films reveal the live reality of traditional Eskimo life before European acculturation. The Netsilik Eskimos of the Pelly Bay region in the Canadian Arctic had long lived apart from other people and had depended entirely on the land and their own ingenuity to sustain life through the rigors of the Arctic year. The filming was done under the ethnographic direction of Dr. Asen Balikci of the University of Montréal, assisted by Guy Mary-Rousseliere, O.M.I., both anthropologists of wide Arctic experience. A minimum of cultural reconstruction was required during the filming; the Netsilik families readily agreed to live in the old way once more and showed considerable aptitude in recalling and representing the earlier ways of life.

May 9 - At the Caribou Crossing Place Parts I and II

These short films are less than half an hour each. These are the first of three sets of films (May 23 and June 6), all made by anthropologist Asen Balikci in the mid 1960s. The films reveal the lived reality of traditional Eskimo life before European acculturation. The Netsilik Eskimos of the Pelly Bay region of the Canadian Arctic had long lived apart from other people and had depended entirely on the land and their own ingenuity to sustain life through the rigors of the Arctic year. The films are a reconstruction of that way of life, with Netsilik families in the 1960s recalling and representing their ways of life from a by-gone era.

May 23 - Building a Kayak Parts I and II

"Building a kayak" consists of two short ethnographic films (25 minutes each) from the mid 1960s of Netsilik Inuit in the Canadian eastern Arctic. Those with an interest in kayaking or boating in general might be particularly interested in coming along, to see how kayaks were traditionally made.

June 6 - At the Winter Sea Ice Camp Parts I, II and IV

These films reveal the live reality of traditional Eskimo life before European acculturation. The Netsilik Eskimos of the Pelly Bay region in the Canadian Arctic had long lived apart from other people and had depended entirely on the land and their own ingenuity to sustain life through the rigors of the Arctic year. The filming was done under the ethnographic direction of Dr. Asen Balikci of the University of Montréal, assisted by Guy Mary-Rousseliere, O.M.I., both anthropologists of wide Arctic experience. A minimum of cultural reconstruction was required during the filming; the Netsilik families readily agreed to live in the old way once more and showed considerable aptitude in recalling and representing the earlier ways of life.