Alethea Arnaquq-Baril

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Alethea Arnaquq-Baril

Althea Arnaquq-Baril in 2016
Alethea Arnaquq-Baril, Inuit filmmaker
BornIqaluit, Nunavut Territory, Canada
Occupation
  • producer
  • director
  • screenwriter
  • animator
ResidenceIqaluit, Nunavut Territory
Alma materSheridan College
GenreDocumentary, Feature Films, Short Films
SubjectInuit culture
Notable worksTunnit: Retracing the Lines of Inuit Tattoos (2010)
Angry Inuk (2016)
Notable awardsCanada's Meritorious Service Cross (MSC) in 2017

Alethea Arnaquq-Baril MSC is an Inuk filmmaker, known for her work on Inuit life and culture. She is the owner of Unikkaat Studios, a production company in Iqaluit, which produces Inuktitut-language films. She was awarded the Canadian Meritorious Service Cross MSC, in 2017 in recognition of her work as an activist and filmmaker. She currently works part-time at the Qanak Collective, a social project which supports Inuit empowerment initiatives.

Early life[edit]

Alethea Arnaquq-Baril was born and raised in Iqaluit, Nunavut Territory, Canada. Her mother is an Inuk teacher with a Masters in Education and her father was a radio broadcaster with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC).[1]

Arnaquq-Baril initially wanted to be a video game designer. While attending Sheridan College in Ontario, she became interested in storytelling. She graduated from the college's Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning's program in illustration. Arnaquq-Baril also completed animation training at the Banff Centre in a program offered by the National Film Board of Canada.[2]

In 2011, Arnaquq-Baril was interviewed by CBC about her work: "The Inuit culture is primarily an oral culture, there is little written in Inuktitut about the past and she feels compelled to record it 'while the last elders that traditionally lived on the land are still alive'".[4]

Film career[edit]

Arnaquq-Baril began her film career as a producer with the documentary James Houston: The Most Interesting Group of People You'll Ever Meet (2008) and as co-producer of The Experimental Eskimos (2009). She wrote and directed her first film, an animated short film sponsored by the National Film Board of Canada (NFB), titled Lumaajuuq: The Blind Boy and the Loon, which was released in 2009. Arnaquq-Baril subsequently wrote a children's book based on the film with illustrator, Daniel Gies. The book is titled The Blind Boy and the Loon and was published in 2014. It is available English and Inuktitut.[3][4]

Arnaquq-Baril directed her first full-length film, Tunnit: Retracing the Lines of Inuit Tattoos (2010), a personal documentary about her journey to explore the lost tradition of Inuit facial tattoos.[3] Between 2011 and 2018, Arnaquq-Baril has worked on five other films in various roles as producer, director and screenwriter. She produces Inuit cultural documentaries and Inuktitut-language films through her own production company, Unikaat Studios, and through Tajarniit Productions, a collaborative project with Inuit women filmmakers. She was named by the Toronto International Film Festival as one of Canada's most important women filmmakers in 2017.[5] Angry Inuk won the DOC Vanguard award, the Vimeo On Demand Audience Award and the Canadian Documentary Promotion Award, among others.[6]

In 2017, Arnaquq-Baril was awarded Canada's Meritorious Service Cross, MSC, "in recognition of her work as an activist and filmmaker".[7] She currently works part-time with the Qanak Collective, which supports Inuit empowerment projects.[1]

Lumaajuuq: The Blind Boy and the Loon (2009)[edit]

The animated, short film Lumaajuuq: The Blind Boy and the Loon, is an adaption of a traditional Inuit story about a widowed mother who takes out her sorrow on her only son and treats him cruelly. Once a great hunter, the son is now blind. He later travels to a lake where a loon reveals to him that it was his mother who cursed away his sight. With the loon's help, the young man regains his vision. Overcome with his own rage, the young man seeks revenge and his actions bring him lifelong suffering. The film won best Canadian Short Drama at the imagineNATIVE festival in 2010 as well as the Golden Sheaf Award for Best Aboriginal category at the Yorkton Film Festival.[6]

Tunniit: Retracing the Lines of Inuit Tattoos (2010)[edit]

The documentary Tunniit: Retracing the Lines of Inuit Tattoos, examines the tradition of face tattooing among Inuit women, now forbidden and nearly forgotten. Arnaquq-Baril embarks on a personal journey, interviewing members of the Inuit community. Meeting resistance from some of her fellow Inuit, she eventually finds a number of elders willing to talk about the tattoos, and learns about the dramatic cultural changes that led to their decline."[8]

Aviliaq: Entwined (2014)[edit]

Arnaquq-Baril released the short film Aviliaq: Entwined in 2014. A drama set in the 1950's Arctic, it tells the story of two Inuit lesbians struggling to stay together after one of them marries. The film addresses the issues of sexuality and family structure in the Inuit culture during a period of colonization.[9]

Angry Inuk (2016)[edit]

Angry Inuk is a full-length film which examines the important role of seal hunting in Inuit culture and the negative impact that activist organizations trying to stop the seal hunt have had on the lives of the Inuit people. The film premiered at the Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival, where the film received the Vimeo On Demand Audience Award along with the Canadian Documentary Promotion Award.[10] It has since screened at many film festivals.[11] On December 1, 2016, Arnaquq-Baril received the DOC Vanguard Award from the Documentary Organization of Canada.[12]Angry Inuk was also included in the list of "Canada's Top Ten" feature films of 2016, selected by a panel of filmmakers and industry professionals organized by TIFF, where it also won the Audience Choice Award.[1][5]

Activism[edit]

Arnaquq-Baril advocates for the continuation of the Arctic seal hunt.[13]

Selected filmography[edit]

Year Film Role Notes
2018 The Grizzlies Producer Based on a true story about a youth lacrosse team created to stopt an epidemic of youth suicide in the community of Kugluktuk, Nunavut, Canada.
2016 Angry Inuk (Documentary) Producer, Director, Screenwriter The full-length film examines the role of seal hunting in Inuit culture and the detrimental effect that international campaigns against the seal hunt have had on the lives of the Inuit people.
2015 The Embargo Project Producer, Director, Screenwriter An anthology of five short films written and directed by five Indigenous women filmmakers.
2014 Aviliaq: Entwined (Short) Producer, Screenwriter, Director A drama set in the 1950s arctic, which tells the story of two Inuit lesbians struggling to stay together after one of them marries.
2011 Throat Song Executive Producer Set in the Canadian arctic, a story of Inuk woman trapped in an abusive relationship, who begins to heal and finds her voice after connecting with other victims of violence.
2010 Seven Sins: Sloth (Short) Director, Screenwriter Animated satire about the Inuit people.
2010 Tunnit: Retracing the Lines of Inuit Tattoos (Documentary) Producer, Director, Screenwriter The film chronicles the lost tradition face tattooing among Inuit women and advocates for the revival of the now forbidden art.
2009 Lumaajuuq: The Blind Boy and the Loon (Short) Director, Screenwriter An adaption of a traditional Inuit story which explains the origin of the narwhal and illustrates the dangers of seeking revenge.
2009 The Experimental Eskimos Producer The story of three 12-year old Inuit boys who were taken from their families in the 1960s to be raised by white families in Ottawa as part of a social experiment.
2008 James Houston: The Most Interesting Group of People You'll Ever Meet Producer A documentary on the life of artist, James Houston, who introduced Inuit art to the world and worked collaboratively with Inuit artists in creating the acclaimed art co-operative, Kinngait Studios.

Selected publications[edit]

  • Arnaquq-Baril, Alethea (2014). The Blind Boy and the Loon. Inhabit Media. p. 48. ISBN 978-1927095577.

Awards[edit]

  • 2008 James Houston: The Most Interesting Group of People You'll Ever Meet won Allan King Award For Excellence in Documentary[4]
  • 2010 Lumaajuuq: The Blind Boy and the Loon won best Canadian Short Drama at the imagineNATIVE festival in 2010[6]
  • 2011 Throat song Best Live Action Short Drama, Academy Awards shortlist (2014).[6]
  • 2016 Angry Inuk received the Vimeo On Demand Audience Award along with the Canadian Documentary Promotion Award[6]
  • 2016 Angry Inuk 2016 winner of Audience Choice award at HotDocs[6]
  • 2017 Angry Inuk Santa Barbara International Film Festival winner Social Justice Award[14]
  • 2017 Arnaquak-Baril named by the Toronto International Film Festival as one of Canada's most important women filmmakers[5]

External links[edit]

  • Innuit High Kick (short film) [1]
  • Seven Sins: Sloth (short film) [2]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Morningstar, Kim. "Alethea Arnaquq-Baril". Documentary Organization of Canada (DOC). Retrieved 6 August 2018.
  2. ^ "Alethea Arnaquq-Baril". National Museum of the American Indian. Retrieved 2016-03-19.
  3. ^ a b "Aboriginal Filmmaker: Alethea Arnaquak-Baril". CBC Canada. Retrieved 5 August 2018.
  4. ^ a b "James Houston: The Most Interesting Group of People You'll Ever Meet (2008)". IMDB. Retrieved 6 August 2018.
  5. ^ a b c "Iqaluit director to be honoured at TIFF as one of Canada's top women in film". CBC News. Retrieved 6 August 2018.
  6. ^ a b c d e f "Alethea Arnaquq-Baril". Cinema Politica. Retrieved 6 August 2018.
  7. ^ Hinchey, Garrett. "Jordin Tootoo, Alethea Arnaquq-Baril among group of Northerners to be honoured in Ottawa". CBC News. Retrieved 6 August 2018.
  8. ^ "Films: Tunniit: Retracing the Lines of Inuit Tattoos". American Museum of Natural History. Retrieved 5 August 2018.
  9. ^ "New film looks at old Inuit practice of multiple spouses". Nunatsiaq, Nunavut August 20, 2014
  10. ^ "'Angry Inuk' wins audience award and $25K prize at Hot Docs festival". CBC News. 10 May 2016. Retrieved 9 September 2016.
  11. ^ "Seal skins: a life and a living". By Neil Bowen, Sarnia Observer, November 6, 2016
  12. ^ Hertz, Barry (2016-12-01). "Hot Docs, filmmaker Alethea Arnaquq-Baril honoured with DOC awards". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 2016-12-05.
  13. ^ "Inuit taking on Ellen's famous photo with 'sealfies'". CTV News, March 28, 2014
  14. ^ Ahern, Sarah. "Santa Barbara Film Festival Announces 2017 Award Winners". Variety. Retrieved 6 August 2018.