Zacharias Kunuk

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Zacharias Kunuk
ᓴᖅᑲᓕᐊᓯ ᑯᓄᒃ
Kifutikajuk Taqaq Nujatut Attafutaluk Quatuk

(1957-11-27) November 27, 1957 (age 65)
Kapuivik, Nunavut (formerly part of Northwest Territories), Canada
EducationFederal Day School
Occupation(s)Producer, director
Years active1995–present
Employer(s)Isuma Productions, Igloolik
Known forAtanarjuat: The Fast Runner, the first indigenous film with all indigenous cast and entirely in Inuktitut
PartnerLydia Anguratsiq
Parent(s)Enuki, Vivian
WebsiteIsuma Productions

Zacharias Kunuk OC ONu (Inuktitut: ᓴᖅᑲᓕᐊᓯ ᑯᓄᒃ, born November 27, 1957) is a Canadian Inuk producer and director most notable for his film Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner, the first Canadian dramatic feature film produced entirely in Inuktitut.[1] He is the president and co-founder with Paul Qulitalik, Paul Apak Angilirq, and Norman Cohn (an ex-New Yorker and the only non-Inuit team member), of Igloolik Isuma Productions, Canada's first independent Inuit production company.[2] Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner (2001), the first feature film that was entirely in Inuktitut was named as the greatest Canadian film of all time by the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival poll.


Zacharias Kunuk was born in Kapuivik on Baffin Island in Canada. In 1966 he attended school in Igloolik. There he carved and sold soapstone sculptures to afford movie admissions. As his skill improved, he was able to buy cameras and photographed Inuit hunting scenes. When he heard about video cameras in 1981, he purchased a camera and the basic equipment to be able to teach himself how to create his own movies.[3]


His second film, The Journals of Knud Rasmussen, is a co-production with Denmark in which he is a co-writer and co-director with Norman Cohn. It premiered on September 7, 2006, as the opening film at the Toronto International Film Festival.

In 2002, Kunuk was made an Officer of the Order of Canada.[4]

He is the son of Enoki Kunuk, a hunter who was lost for 27 days during June 2007 in the Arctic tundra.[citation needed]

Kunuk is the co-founder of the Inuit Knowledge and Climate Change Project, along with Ian Mauro of the University of Victoria's School of Environmental Studies. The goal of the project is to collect information from Inuit elders for a film about the Inuit perspective on the impact of climate change on Inuit culture and the environment. The project submitted a video to the United Nations for the 2009 COP15 Copenhagen Conference on Climate Change which was presented at Denmark's National Gallery.[5]

As of April 2011, Kunuk is developing a project with Cree filmmaker Neil Diamond about the 18th century conflict between Cree and Inuit, which lasted almost a century.[6]

In March 2019, Kunuk was made a member of the Order of Nunavut, the sole member of the Order's 2018 class.[7]


Feature films and television:

Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences[edit]

In July 2017 the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS, also known as simply the Academy), invited Kunuk to become a member. The Academy, which has almost 7,000 motion picture professionals as members,[9] is known internationally for their annual Academy Awards, the Oscars. In 2017 they invited 774 new members to join.[10]


Year Award Result Recipient
2001 Cannes Film Festival: Golden Camera Win Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner
2001 Edinburgh International Film Festival: New Directors Award Win Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner (Tied with L.I.E.)
2001 Ghent International Film Festival: FIPRESCI Prize-Special Mention-Grand Prix Win Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner
2001 Hawaii International Film Festival: Special Mention Best Feature Film, Best Feature Film Nominated Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner
2001 Santa Fe Film Festival: Luminaria-Best Feature Win Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner
2001 Toronto International Film Festival: Best Canadian Feature Film Win Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner
2001 Cinemanila International Film Festival: Lino Brocka Award Win Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner (Tied with What Time Is It Over There?)
2002 Genie Awards: Claude Jutra Award-Best Achievement in Direction, Best Achievement in Editing, Best Motion Picture Win Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner (Shared with Norman Cohn, Paul Apak Angilirq, Germain Wong)
2002 Newport International Film Festival: Audience Award-Best Feature Win Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner
2002 San Diego International Film Festival: Festival Award-Best Feature Film Win Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner
2002 Toronto Film Critics Association Awards: TFCA Award-Best First Feature Win Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner
2003 Chicago Film Critics Association Awards: CFCA Award – Most Promising Director Nominated Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner
2003 Independent Spirit Awards: Independent Spirit Award-Best Foreign Film Nominated Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner
2019 Vancouver International Film Festival: Best Canadian Film Award Won[11] One Day in the Life of Noah Piugattuk
2021 Toronto International Film Festival Award for Best Canadian Short Film Won Angakusajaujuq: The Shaman's Apprentice


  • Angakusajaujuq: The Shaman's Apprentice (2021)[12]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Interview by Michelle Svenson, Film and Video Specialist, NMAI (April 1, 2002). "Zacharias Kunuk Interview – Native Networks". Smithsonian Institution. Archived from the original on 2013-09-11. Retrieved 2009-10-03.
  2. ^ Angilirq, Paul Apak (2002). Atanarjuat the fast runner. Toronto: Coach House Books and Isuma Publishing. pp. 13–15, 197–227. ISBN 1-55245-113-5.
  3. ^ "Zacharias Kunuk." Famous, Should Be Famous, and Infamous Canadians. (retrieved 29 Jan 2011)
  4. ^ "Carleton Stories" Zacharias Kunuk Shares Intimate Picture of the North. (retrieved 27 Feb 2017)
  5. ^ "I've gone from the stone age to the digital age". Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting. November 11, 2002. Archived from the original on November 14, 2009. Retrieved 2016-02-09.
  6. ^ Dunlevy, T'Cha (9 April 2011). "Reel Injun continues making waves". Montreal Gazette. Retrieved 15 April 2011.
  7. ^ "Advisory Council Announces Appointment to the Order of Nunavut | Nunavut Legislative Assembly".
  8. ^ Catherine Porter, "Reviving a Lost Language of Canada Through Film". The New York Times, June 11, 2017.
  9. ^ "2017 Oscars: Who are the 6,687 voting members of the academy?". February 13, 2017. Retrieved February 19, 2017.
  10. ^ "Zacharias Kunuk, celebrated Nunavut filmmaker, joins Oscars academy: 'I thought it was a spam email… but then it came up again and I checked it'". CBC News. July 7, 2017. Retrieved July 8, 2017.
  11. ^ "VIFF 2019 BC Spotlight Gala Award Winners" (Press release). Vancouver International Film Festival. 2019-10-05. Retrieved 2019-10-07.
  12. ^ "The Shaman's Apprentice". Inhabit Media. Retrieved 2022-06-03.

External links[edit]