Accessing the Inuit: Challenges Faced by Atanarjuat’s English-Canadian Viewers
2150 Words 9 Pages
As a film made by Inuit people and for the Inuit community, Atanarjuat provides the audience with a privileged look into the Northern society. Throughout the film, many viewers are exposed to elements of Inuit culture which are unfamiliar. The film’s director, Zacharias Kunuk, faces a paradox because he wants viewers to feel like insiders of Inuit culture, yet the viewers cannot truly understand the cultural traditions that are represented in the film. The majority of the viewers have never lived in an Inuit community and have very little sense of the ideologies that persist in Inuit society. Because Atanarjuat does not aim to be an educational film, it does not explain itself. There are many moments throughout the film which cannot …show more content…
According to the popular myth, the Inuit are a static people who live happily and mysteriously in the unforgiving tundra. Inuit art, similarly, is most often interpreted as artefact rather than as an evolving form of expression. In academic writing, First Nations art is usually described as “post-colonial,” but this term undermines the validity of a unique narrative voice. Author Thomas King rejects this label because he believes it unquestionably defines Native work in terms of an English-Canadian canon, limiting the possibility for First Nations people to explore new artistic territory (King 185). Using the term “post-colonial” suggests that the work produced by natives must be a reaction to European colonization, which places English-Canadian work in a position of greater significance than Native work. More often, First Nations art is created to express their lives and culture rather than to express their struggle with colonization. Much Native art cannot properly be analyzed in terms of the English-Canadian canon because of the distinct cultural differences between the societies. Using the term “post-colonial” removes power from the Native people, suggesting that they need the presence of colonial forces in order to express themselves. First Nations filmmakers reject the portrayal of the Inuit as defined by colonizers and are prepared to offer a culturally distinct perspective of their own lives.