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), which won 6 Leo Awards, "Best Canadian Film" and "Best BC Film" at the 2018 Vancouver International Film Festival, the Sun Jury Prize at the ImagineNATIVE Film & Media Festival, and was named to "Canada's Top Ten 2018" by the Toronto International Film Festival. In 2019, Kunuk, Cohn and the 30-year Isuma media art project represented Canada at the 58th Venice Biennale. Isuma's most recent film, "One Day in the Life of Noah Piugattuk" was awarded "Best Canadian Film" at the 2019 Vancouver International Film Festival. Most recently, Kunuk, Cohn and the 30-year Isuma media art project was named to represent Canada at the 2019 Venice Biennale.
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.
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
info [at] isuma [dot] tv
Kingulliit Productions Inc.
P.O. Box 223
Igloolik, Nunavut, CANADA
Zacharias Kunuk, President: zkunuk [at] isuma [dot] ca
Lucius Barre (Press, New York): lucius [at] rcn [dot] com