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Films >> Fast Runner, The (Atanarjuat) (2001) >>

Visual Sovereignty in Atanarjuat
By Krystal Kaai, with comments by Erin Thorn, Andrew Tye, Nicholas Alakel, Taara Ness-Cochinwala, and Samuel Olsen

A year after winning the Camera d'Or award at the Cannes Film Festival for his film Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner, Director and Producer Zacharias Kunuk spoke at the 2002 Spry Memorial Lecture series about the profound way in which film technology has revolutionized the art of traditional Inuit storytelling. Though Inuit legends have survived for millennia, passed down through the tradition of oral storytelling, Atanarjuat is the first production of its kind to document a uniquely Inuit legend through the visual medium of film. By creating a film centralized around a seminal Inuit legend, produced by an Inuit film company, spoken entirely in Inuktitut [the Inuit language], and comprised of an all-Inuit cast...
A Question of Authenticity
By Haydn Galloway, with comments by Caitlin Prozonic, Samuel Olsen, Nicholas Alakel, and Karen Haberland

Both Atanarjuat and Mel Gibson’s Apocalypto (2006) depict pre-contact civilizations, with Atanarjuat portraying the lives of the Inuits and Apocalypto following the lives of the Maya. The films both have very similar aspects to them, especially the epic chase scenes, but there is one very significant distinguishing factor. Apocalypto was written by a “white” man while Atanarjuat was written, directed, produced, and acted by (except for cinematographer Norman Cohn) a fully Inuit cast and crew. But does this mean that Atanarjuat is a more authentic picture, or is it just as “modern-day” conscious as Apocalypto? (
The Slow Thaw of Western Myth: Reclamation of Visual Sovereignty in Inuit Culture
By Michael T. Lloyd

The advent of motion pictures at the turn of the 20th century gifted mankind with an unprecedented ability to record and represent both the broad history and subtle nuances of existing cultures outside of a studio setting. There are, however, inherent pitfalls in pseudo-documentary filmmaking whereby the means of production and distribution are available only to a small percentage of the population, often backed by controlling interests prioritizing financial gain and/or a subjective creative vision. This socioeconomic division fosters hegemony, unfortunately putting the cultures that could benefit most from a vivid declaration of sovereignty through film at the greatest risk for misrepresentation and marginalization. When shot and told...