Archive of films Atanarjuat-The Fast Runner / Atanarjuat-The Fast Runner

Canada
2001, 172 min

Section: Forum of Independents
Year: 2002

The first film to be made in the Inuit language, based on an ancient Inuit legend about good and evil, love and revenge, survival and death, set in the Arctic. This unusually strong drama won the Camera d’Or for Best Debut at Cannes 2001.


Synopsis

The first film made in the Inuit language is based on an ancient Inuit legend about good and evil, love and revenge, survival and death, set in the Arctic. For countless generations, the elders have kept the legend alive through oral history to teach young Inuits the dangers of setting personal desire above the needs of the group. It is a story about two brothers, the older Amaqjuaq, the Strong One, and the younger Atanarjuat, the Fast Runner. When the lovely Atuat decides to marry Atanarjuat instead of Oki, the boastful son of the camp leader, the latter vows to get even. He ambushes the brothers in their sleep, killing Amaqjuaq, while Atanarjuat miraculously escapes, running naked over the spring sea ice. But can he ever escape the cycle of vengeance left behind? Each detail on the screen is authentic: sledges, a tattoo on a woman’s face, an igloo, a seal oil lamp, seal-skin clothing – giving the film the character of a documentary. Yet it is much more than a mere record of disappearing Inuit culture. Its universality, narrative strength and visual power go far beyond this. This unusually strong drama won the Camera d’Or for best debut in Cannes 2001.

About the director

Zacharias Kunuk (1957) was born in the arctic tundra of Canada. He was nine years old when his family gave up their nomadic lifestyle and settled in Igloolik. In 1981, already a famous carver, Kunuk sold three sculptures in Montreal and brought home the first video camera to a community which had yet to see a television. He has directed short dramas, TV and documentary films. Atanarjuat, the Fast Runner is his first feature film.

About the film

Black & white, 35 mm

Section: Forum of Independents
   
Director: Zacharias Kunuk
Screenplay: Paul Apak Angilirq
Dir. of Photography: Norman Cohn
Music: Chris Crilly
Editor: Zacharias Kunuk, Norman Kohn
Producer: Zacharias Kunuk, Sally Bochner
Production: Igloolik Isuma Productions Inc
Cast: Natar Ungalaaq, Sylvia Ivalu, Peter-Henry Arnatsiaq
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