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In 1985, the Inuktitut-language video, From Inuk Point of View, broke the race-barrier at Canada Council for the Arts when Zacharias Kunuk became the first Inuit or Indigenous applicant ruled eligible to apply for a professional artist’s grant. Kunuk was the video’s director; Norman Cohn was cameraman; Paul Apak was editor; and elder Pauloosie Qulitalik told the story, and by 1990, the four partners formed Igloolik Isuma Productions Inc. to produce independent video art from an Inuit point of view. Early Isuma videos featuring actors recreating Inuit life in the 1930s and 1940s were shown to Inuit at home and in museums and galleries around the world. Over the next ten years Isuma artists helped establish an Inuit media arts centre, NITV; a youth media and circus group, Artcirq; and a women's video collective, Arnait Video Productions. In 2001, Isuma’s first feature-length drama, Atanarjuat The Fast Runner, won the Camera d’or at the Cannes Film Festival; in 2002, both Atanarjuat and Nunavut (Our Land), a 13-part TV series, were shown at Documenta 11 in Kassel, Germany. Isuma’s second feature, The Journals of Knud Rasmussen, opened the 2006 Toronto International Film Festival, and its third feature, Before Tomorrow, written and directed by Igloolik’s Arnait Video Productions women’s collective, was screened in World Cinema Competition at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival. In 2008, Isuma launched IsumaTV, the world’s first website for Indigenous media art, now showing over 6,000 films and videos in 84 languages. In 2012, Isuma produced Digital Indigenous Democracy, an internet network to inform and consult Inuit in low-bandwidth communities facing development of the Baffinland Iron Mine and other resource projects; and in 2014, produced My Father’s Land, a non-fiction feature about what took place during this intervention. Recent projects include the feature drama, Maliglutit (Searchers), the TV series, Hunting With My Ancestors, and the world's first Haida-language feature film, SGaawaay K’uuna (Edge of the Knife). In 2019, Kunuk, Cohn and the 30-year Isuma media art project represented Canada at the 58th Venice Biennale with Isuma's most recent film, One Day in the Life of Noah Piugattuk.
Dr. Zacharias Kunuk O.C.
Born in 1957 in a sod house on Baffin Island, Zacharias Kunuk was a carver in 1981 when he sold three sculptures in Montreal to buy a home-video camera and 27” TV to bring back to Igloolik, a settlement of 500 Inuit who had voted twice to refuse access to outside television. After working for six years for the Inuit Broadcasting Corporation as producer and station manager, Kunuk co-founded Igloolik Isuma Productions Inc. in 1990 with Paul Apak Angilirq, Pauloosie Qulitalik and Norman Cohn. In addition to Atanarjuat The Fast Runner, Kunuk has directed more than 30 videos screened in film festivals, theatres, museums and art galleries. He has honorary doctorates from Trent University and Wilfred Laurier University; is the winner of the Cannes Camera d’or, three Genie Awards, a National Arts Award, and the National Aboriginal Achievement Award, and just recently, the 2017 Technicolor Clyde Gilmour Award from the Toronto Film Critics Association. Zacharias Kunuk was named an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2015.
Born in 1946 in New York, Norman Cohn travelled to Igloolik in 1985 to meet Zacharias Kunuk and Paul Apak after seeing videos they had made while working for the Inuit Broadcasting Corporation. In 1990, assisted by a Guggenheim Fellowship, Cohn moved to Igloolik, where, with Kunuk, Apak and Pauloosie Qulitalik, he co-founded Igloolik Isuma Productions, and helped develop Isuma’s style of “re-lived” cultural drama by adapting the authenticity of video observation to the art of Inuit storytelling. Cohn’s experimental video work began in 1970 in the U.S.; he immigrated to Canada in 1976 and became a Canadian citizen in 1981. In 1983, Cohn’s exhibition of 16 videos, Norman Cohn: Portraits, opened at the Art Gallery of Ontario, the National Gallery of Canada, Vancouver Art Gallery, Musée d’art contemporain de Montreal and 49th Parallel Gallery in New York. In 1987, his experimental non-fiction feature Quartet for Deafblind was shown at Documenta 8.
Paul Apak Angilirq
Born in 1954 on the mainland near Igloolik, Apak was a hunter, dogteamer and still photographer when he began his career in 1978 as a trainee in The Inukshuk Project, Canada's first venture to train indigenous TV producers in remote communities. Apak joined Inuit Broadcasting Corporation in 1981 and in 1992 was honoured by IBC with a Special Recognition Award for his career contribution. An experienced adventurer, Apak filmed The Qidlarsuaaq Expedition driving one of three dogteams retracing a 19th century Inuit migration from Igloolik to Qanaaq, Greenland; and Through Eskimo Country, helping to build and sail a traditional walrus-hide boat from Siberia to Alaska through the Bering Strait. Apak wrote the story and Inuktitut screenplay for Atanarjuat The Fast Runner based on interviews with elders. He passed away from cancer in December 1998 before the film was completed.
Born in 1939 on Baffin Island, Qulitalik was Canada's first unilingual Inuk filmmaker, working for Inuit Broadcasting Corporation in Igloolik from 1990-1992 and receiving a landmark Canada Council grant in 1992 as Isuma's producer for Saputi (Fish Trap). Qulitalik served for many years as Chairman of Igloolik's Community Education Committee, concerned with ensuring Inuit culture was included in the school curriculum. As elder Chairman and co-founder of Isuma, Qulitalik oversaw the cultural authenticity of every Isuma production, and played lead acting roles in many, including Qaggiq, Nunaqpa, Saputi, the Nunavut (Our Land) TV series and Atanarjuat The Fast Runner. Qulitalik passed away in 2012.
Contact, Distribution, International Sales
Kunuk Cohn Productions / Isuma Distribution International Inc. / Kingulliit Productions (southern office)
5333 Avenue Casgrain #910
Montréal, QC CANADA
tel: +1.514.486.0707 / fax .9851
Kingulliit Productions Inc. (northern office)
P.O. Box 223
Igloolik, Nunavut, CANADA
Zacharias Kunuk, President: firstname.lastname@example.org
Lucius Barre (Press, New York): email@example.com