April 27, 2011

On the Ice challenges stereotypes

Answering Back

Andrew Okpeaha MacLean Captures Life on the Ice

By Paulette Beete
All of MacLean's films to date have been set, at least in part, in Barrow and its surrounding landscape. As is true with all hard-to-reach places, the inhabitants of Alaska's North Slope remain a mystery to outsiders, and much of their characterization in popular culture is half-truth verging on caricature. MacLean's filmmaking is a reflection of his desire to let people know what being an Eskimo is really like. "We're in a kind of strange position that everybody in the world has heard of Eskimos. Most people have some kind of strange notions--they rely on stereotypes they've heard….We're like a punch line or something. Nobody really knows us. I want to make art that is reflective of a more genuine aspect of our experience."

He added that there is an implicit political angle to his filmmaking. "In the Arctic right now, we've got this avalanche of information and narrative and stories that just piles into our lives from the dominant Western culture. Movies, television, Internet, Facebook, music…I want to start answering that back. I want to start making people listen to us for a change. I've seen a million movies about you guys, now here's a movie about us that you have to sit and watch."
Comment:  For more on the subject, see On the Ice Wins in Berlin and Mixed Reviews for On the Ice.

Below:  "Director Andrew Okpeaha MacLean, working on his film On the Ice."

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