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|Founder(s)||Zacharias Kunuk, Norman Cohn|
IgloolikIgloolik, Nunavut, Canada
|Number of locations||Montreal, New York City|
|Key people||Zacharias Kunuk (president), Paul Apak Angilirq (vice-president), Pauloosie Qulitalik (chairman), Norman Cohn (secretary-treasurer)|
Isuma (Inuktitut syllabics, ᐃᓱᒪ; Inuktituk for "to think") is Canada's first Inuit (75%) production company co-founded by Zacharias Kunuk and Norman Cohn in Igloolik, Nunavut in 1990. The company focuses on bringing people of multiple age ranges, cultural backgrounds, and belief systems together to support and promote Canada's indigenous community through television, the Internet and films. Isuma's mission is to produce independent community-based media aimed to preserve and enhance Inuit culture and language; to create jobs and economic development in Igloolik and Nunavut; and to tell authentic Inuit stories to Inuit and non-Inuit audiences worldwide.
In 2011, Isuma filed for receivership, citing $750,000 in debts, including $500,000 to Atuqtuarvik Corp. of Rankin Inlet. A Montreal-based receiver, RSM Richter, is putting company’s assets—most notably its film library—up for sale.
In 1999, the company filmed and produced the supernatural historical thriller Atanarjuat, also released as Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner. It was a box office success around the world, and won the Caméra d'Or for Best First Feature Film at the 2001 Cannes Film Festival, six Genies (including Best Picture), and several other international film awards. The film had its Canadian premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2001.
The massive critical success of Atanarjuat led to funding from Telefilm Canada, enabling Isuma to begin development on multiple scripts. One of these, The Journals of Knud Rasmussen, about the switch from shamanism to Christianity in Igloolik in the early 1920s, received the offer to open the Toronto International Film Festival in 2006.
Since Isuma means "to have a thought", the collaborators of Igloolik Isuma Productions encourage alternative and multimedia processes designed to make the world at large think not only about the Inuit and their current plight, but about indigenous peoples in general, and the future of the role of community in society. Much of the New World’s wealth today was extracted from its Aboriginal citizens, who by every measure now are the most destitute populations in these countries. If the Inuit of Fast Runner ended up in 1922 in church, the Inuit of The Journals ended up in today’s newspapers stories, living in Third World ghettos scattered across the wealthiest First World nations.
Historically, how a country treats its indigenous people is an excellent gauge of its social and political views on humanism in general; what happens to the indigenous peoples of any given country is a sign of what will eventually happen to the dominant culture in time. Even today the law, education, religion and media continue to efface living memories of Aboriginal cultural history. As Norman Cohn says,
Save the seals and Save the bears seems more attractive than Save the people, but unless the rights of humans to live in their habitat are more widely recognized and protected it's a little fatuous to even dream about saving birds and animals.
Isuma aims to increase awareness and focus about and for indigenous peoples of all cultures, not just Northern Canada, through encouraging multimedia approaches. Their goal is to ensure that these rights are not compartmentalized, but rather include the awareness of human rights in a larger cultural and holistic context: through exploration of spirituality, globalization, environmentalism, cinema, world media, and Native awareness.
Isumatv is a video Internet portal. It is a video site dedicated to indigenous filmmakers and is a free service. The site hosts films that put forth an aboriginal view and is intended to help Native communities around the world become connected.
- Atanarjuat (2000)
- The Journals of Knud Rasmussen (2006)
- Before Tomorrow (2008)
- Exile (in production)
Unikaatuatiit (Story Tellers) series
- Alert Bay (1989)
- Attagutaaluk (Starvation, 1992)
- Qulliq (Oil Lamp, 1993)
- Nunavut (Our Land, 1994–95) 13 part TV series
- Piujuk & Angutautuk (1994)
- Sanannguarti (Carver, 1995)
- Nipi (Voice, 1999)
- Nanugiurutiga (My First Polar Bear, 2000)
- Ningiura (My Grandmother, 2000)
- Anaana (Mother, 2001)
- Ajainaa! (Almost!, 2001)
- Artcirq (2001)
- Arviq! (Bowhead!, 2002)
- Angakkuiit (Shaman Stories, 2003)
- Kunuk Family Reunion (2004)
- Unakuluk (Dear little one, 2005)
- Qallunajatut (Urban Inuk, 2005)
- Kiviaq vs. Canada (2006)
- Dixon, Guy (30 December 2011). "Out in the cold: the struggle of Inuit film". Globe and Mail. Retrieved 2 January 2012.
- "Nunavut: a timeline for the year that was". Nunatsiaq News. 2 January 2012. Retrieved 4 January 2012.
- The Journals of Knud Rasmussen
- Before Tomorrow
- Nunavut (Our Land) Series