Synopsis by Josh Ralske
Atanarjuat the Fast Runner is the first feature film in the Inuktitut language, spoken by the Inuit tribes of northern Canada. The film, based on an ancient Inuit legend, is set at the dawn of the millennium. It's an epic tale of love, betrayal, and revenge, set in motion by an evil force brought to the village of Igloolik by a mysterious shaman. Conceived by the late Paul Apak Angilirq, who co-wrote the screenplay, the film was shot on widescreen digital video by Norman Cohn (one of the few non-Inuit crew members on the shoot) and directed by Zacharias Kunuk. Kunuk and his crew meticulously re-created the conditions the Inuit tribes lived under before exposure to Southern influences, using information handed down from tribe elders and the journals of Captain William Edward Parry, a British explorer who visited the area in 1822. The film tells the story of Atanarjuat (Natar Ungalaq), an unassuming young man who falls in love with Atuat (Sylvia Ivalu), whose hand has already been promised to the scheming Oki (Peter-Henry Arnatsiaq), the son of the tribal chief. Atanarjuat doesn't think he's strong enough to fight Oki, and relies on his older brother, the powerful Amaqjuaq (Pakkak Innukshuk), to look out for him. But eventually, the jealous Oki challenges Atanarjuat to a brutal contest for Atuat's hand. Atanarjuat wins, and weds his love, but his problems are far from over. While Atuat is pregnant, Oki's sister, the flirtatious Puja (Lucy Tulugarjuk), seduces Atanarjuat and becomes his second wife. She disrupts Atanarjuat's family from within while Oki plans his revenge. Atanarjuat the Fast Runner won the Camera D'Or at Cannes in 2001, and was selected for the 2002 New Directors/New Films Festival at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
Inuit, betrayal, brotherhood, competition, deception, love-triangle, revenge, running, snow, supernatural-forces, tribe, village
High Artistic Quality, High Historical Importance