April 18, 2007

Summing up The Fast Runner

Inuit Actor/Sculptor, NATAR UNGALAAQ Star of ATANARJUATA strikingly beautiful film that brought visual life to the oral storytelling tradition of the Canadian north, Atanarjuat (The Fast Runner) is one of Canada's most celebrated cinematic achievements. "Atanarjuat is a universal story with emotions people all over the world can understand", says Zacharias Kunuk, director and producer. "It is also totally Inuit: a story we all heard as children, told and acted by Inuit." Drawing on an 11th Century Inuit legend as passed down by generations, the film weaves a myth of love, betrayal and revenge as brothers Atanarjuat (Natar Ungalaaq) and Amaqjuaq (Pakak Innuksuk) run afoul of Oki (Peter-Henry Arnatsiaq), the son of the tribe leader, after Atanarjuat marries Oki's promised bride (Sylvia Ivalu). When Oki attempts to kill the pair, only fleet-footed Atanarjuat escapes, and through the help of others, returns to camp to face his brother's murderer.

With meticulously recreated historical settings and props, the Inuktitut-language film became a critical and popular success on release, winning the coveted Caméra d'Or at Cannes in 2001. Winner of 6 Genie Awards (including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Original Score, Best Editing, and Claude Jutra), Atanarjuat was Canada's official foreign-language selection for the Academy Awards.

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