Press Coverage The Journals of Knud Rasmussen

The Journals of Knud Rasmussen

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Edmonton Journal "Journals explores 'cultural genocide' of shamanism" Mari Sasano, October 6th

"The writing/directing team of Norman Cohn and Zacharias Kunuk astonished audiences around the world with their debut feature film, Atanarjuat The Fast Runner. Made in 2001, it won the Camera d'Or at Cannes for that year and was the first feature film written, produced and performed in the Inuit language, Inuktitut. The film (which was actually shot on digital video and later transferred to film) portrayed a semi-mythical story of love and revenge, showing life in the Arctic with its endlessly wide landscapes and clear skies."

Mari Sasano, Edmonton Journal

Eye Weekly "Ideal Of North" Jason Anderson, September 28th

"Complemented by the movie's visceral thrills and unprecedented views of the north, the strategy presented a challenge that was unique, enthralling and richly rewarding. The novelty of that first encounter can never be repeated. Yet five years later, the filmmakers return with a challenge that will startle even Atanarjuat's admirers. "This is like going to a graduate school," says Cohn of The Journals of Knud Rasmussen in an interview with him and Kunuk the day before their movie opened the Toronto International Film Festival. "A lot of people will come to this film believing they've already been there and therefore know what to expect. But our goal was that you should have the same level of challenge and surprise this time as you did last time."

Jason Anderson, Eye Weekly

The Province "A look at traditional Inuit life" Glen Schaefer, September 29th

"'Colourful' might seem an odd word to describe the snow-bound story told in The Journals of Knud Rasmussen

But the second feature from co-directors Zacharias Kunuk and Norman Cohn (Atanarjuat: the Fast Runner) moves at its own organic pace to flesh out the lives of a group of Inuit in the early decades of the last century, as they shift from shamanism to Christianity."

Glen Schaefer, The Province

The Winnipeg Free Press "Warm heart, frozen surroundings" Randall King, September 29th

"The events that occur in the film The Journals of Knud Rasmussen are momentous. It's a movie about nothing less than the collapse of an ancient culture. But because that culture is in the Arctic, taking place within the sparsely populated Inuit communities of the Far North, the movie doesn't approach the subject with the sturrm and drang of the historical epic. In fact, the subject is broadened with surprising delicacy."

Randall King, the Winnipeg Free Press

Ottawa Citizen "A sad chant for passing of a northern way of life" Jay Stone, September 29th

"The movies of Zacharias Kunuk have the calm procession of folk tales, which is mostly what they are. Kunuk doesn't rush into a story; he insinuates us into a world where people sit closely together -- against the cold, against the outside world -- and cook a meal, or laugh at a folkloric ceremony, or tell a long story about becoming a shaman ("He was born to be dead but now he will live.") The action, such as it is, can wait. As they say in the North, or as they should, it takes a while to boil snow."

Jay Stone, The Ottawa Citizen

Montreal Gazette "A foreign film from our own backyard" John Griffin, September 29th

"That a film so quintessentially Canadian could be more profoundly "other" than anything else on the festival's extensive program says something about the cultural depth of this country, and its tragic divisions."

John Griffin, The Montreal Gazette

CBC "Family Matters. The tragic, shattering Journals of Knud Rasmussen" by Rachel Giese, September 29th

"The Journals of Knud Rasmussen declares its intentions in its opening scene: a group of Inuit people in heavy parkas group together, fidget and adjust themselves, smile awkwardly and strike a variety of poses until — click — their image is captured in a sepia-toned picture. Since all of this is filmed from the photographer’s perspective, the audience is placed in a voyeur’s position. We are meant to watch these people as they go about their business — both the mundane and profound — never quite knowing them, but bearing witness to what will turn out to be a decisive moment in their history.."

Rachel Giese, CBC

The Hour "The Journals of Knud Rasmussen: Food for thought" Melora Koepke, September 28th

"Inuit live in the present. Life is about doing things, not about worrying about the future or regretting the past. [Inuit] skipped over literature - they went directly from oral history to the digital age. It's probably why we're so good at it. Celluloid filmmaking can be so, you know, didactic."

Melora Koepke, The Hour

TIFF Cinematical Review: The Journals of Knud Rasmussen by Martha Fischer September 9th 2006

"Though we're not always aware of how the film is working upon us, its last image packs such an unexpectedly shattering power that there's no doubt our trust was not in vain."

Martha Fischer, Cinematical

Le Devoir "Au pays des orphelins" Odile Tremblay, 30 Septembre

Difficile de pas s'étonner devant la fracture qui divise les cinéphiles après la projection du Journal de Knud Rasmussen de Norman Cohn et Zacharias Kunuk. Certains qui avaient apprécié Atanarjuat, le précédent long métrage de l'Inuit Kunuk, rejettent celui-ci. A ma grande stupeur. Éblouie, je crie pour ma part au grand film. Un rare moment de cinéma magique et grandiose nous est ici offert, sans concessions narratives, avec une authenticité conjuguée à un art consommé. La structure même du film (où la narratrice, une vieille femme inuit, se remémore sa jeunesse en flashbacks en alternance avec les points de vue des Européens de passage, simples témoins au fond), s'autorise un flou artistique. Le genre hybride, flottant entre document ethnologique, conte fantastique et drame du choc des cultures, en déconcerte aussi plusieurs.

Odile Tremblay, Le Devoir

Reverse Shot "The Old World" by Michael Joshua Rowin, Summer 2006

"It’ll be interesting to chart the reception given to The Journals of Knud Rasmussen in the U.S. upon wide release, if it has one. This Canadian-Danish co-production, directed by the filmmakers of the widely heralded The Fast Runner, outwardly resembles, in not an insignificant number of ways, that recent juggernaut of critical and cult allegiance, The New World. Both explore a collision of cultures, both contain a strong female protagonist, and both pine for the romantic “purity” of a lost world without, thankfully, fully succumbing to insipid noble savage illusions."

Michael Joshua Rowin

Screen Daily "Review: The Journals Of Knud Rasmussen" by Len Klady, September 8

"The combination of an opening night slot in Toronto and the pressure of following up on their justly heralded debut Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner – which won Cannes’ Camera d’Or in 2001 - provide film-makers Zacharis Kunuk and Norman Cohen with a searing spotlight for their new feature The Journals Of Knud Rasmussen. But while it avoids the bane of the “terrible twos,” their second work nevertheless lacks the novelty and cohesion of the production that brought them to prominence."

Len Klady, Screen Daily

The Toronto Star "Inuit film opens Toronto fest" by Geoff Pevere, September 7

Having invited the world at large into the realm of Inuit culture and storytelling with the remarkable crossover phenomenon of Atarnarjuat (The Fast Runner), filmmaker Zacharias Kunuk (here co-writing and directing with cinematographer Norman Cohn) now addresses the catastrophic effects of cultural collision in The Journals of Knud Rasmussen.

A bold choice for the curtain-opening event of this year's Toronto International Film Festival, the movie will also prove a controversial one: not only is it about the obliteration of Inuit culture in face of European Christianity, it's a languid, meditative and elliptical as the earlier movie was propulsive, immediate and visceral."

Geoff Pevere, The Toronto Star

British Film Institute "Review: The Journals Of Knud Rasmussen" by Sarah Lutton, September 7

"Zacharius Kunuk and Norman Cohn, the team behind Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner (the first film in the Inuit language of Inuktitut) bring another ground-breaking film set within and produced by the Inuit community. This time their focus is on a pivotal moment in Inuit history when the people first encountered European explorers and Christianity. Around 1922 the Danish explorer and anthropologist Knud Rasmussen journeyed to the Canadian Arctic to record the stories and beliefs of the local tribes, and this quest forms a springboard from which their stories are told within this film. "

Sarah Lutton, British film Institute

The Edmonton Journal "Inuit filmmaker brings his people's history to light" by Mari Sasano, October 10th

"We came in one lifetime from the Stone Age to digital technology. We Inuit adapt. We're good at adapting. Filmmaking is just another way; it's just like hunting, like soapstone carving."

Mari Sasano, The Edmonton Journal

Mad About Movies "The Journals of Knud Rasmussen" by Marina on IMDb Oct. 5 2006

Nomadic Inuit life is not something that most people are familiar, including me. Knowing very little about the culture or the people, I walked into The Journals of Knud Rasmussen knowing very little about the production including whether it was a documentary or a feature film and, for the first ten minutes of the film I was still unsure. That’s one of the winning aspects of this film, it’s authenticity.

Marina in Drama

Not Coming to a Theater Near You "The Journals of Knud Rasmussen" by Leo Goldsmith

If we are to adhere to the credits of the film literally, the full title of Norman Cohn and Zacharias Kunuk’s follow-up to their enormously successful film, Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner, is actually A Series of Events Reported in the Journals of Knud Rasmussen. This is notable for two reasons: first, because the film strives toward a documentary realism with its use of handheld, DV cinematography; second, because very little of the film is actually narrated from the title figure’s perspective.

Leo Goldsmith

NYFF Review "The Journals of Knud Rasmussen" by Film Brain, Oct. 9 2006

The Journals of Knud Rasmussen, for their second feature, filmmakers Zacharias Kunuk and Norman Cohn return once again to the frozen landscape of northern Canada, home of the Iglulik Inuit. The Journals of Knud Rasmussen, sort of an anthropological sidebar to Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner, is based on the detailed journals of the Danish explorer who, in the early 1920s, traveled across the Canadian Arctic to collect data on the social organization and intellectual culture of the Inuit communities. More importantly, he wanted to document the shamanic practices and taboos before they were converted to Christianity, which specifically forbade them from even mentioning their former beliefs.

Film Brain

The Toronto Star "Family history inspires new Kunuk film" by Bruce Kirkland, September 27th

"If truth be told, Canada's only Inuit feature filmmaker would rather stay home in Igloolik and spend his weekends on a traditional hunt.

"For me personally, more and more, I want to stay home," Zacharias Kunuk told the Toronto Sun recently."

Bruce Kirkland, The Toronto Star

NYFF Update #4 "Watching What We Eat" by Aaron Hillis, Oct. 6 2006

Even if everyone said a heartfelt grace before each meal, there'd be a strong chance that food — and how we obtain it — would still get taken for granted. Two outstanding new works at the fest show the lengths man goes to to not starve, quite literally in the anthropological drama The Journals of Knud Rasmussen.

Aaron Hillis

Le Journal de Montréal "Pour Public Averti" Daniel Rioux, 30 Septembre

Malgré la noblesse du geste et de la cause qu'il porte et malgré la pertinence du propos, tout porte à croire que le film The Journals of Knud Rasmussen sortira dans l'indifférence générale. Présenté en version originale inuktitut, le film puise sa source dans les écrits de l'explorateur danois Knud Rasmussen, à qui le grand chamane inuit Avva avait raconté sa vie lors d'une expédition menée dans l’Arctique canadien en 1922.

Daniel Rioux, Le Journal de Montréal

La Presse "Long voyage au pays du froid" Marc-André Lussier, 30 Septemre

Il y a cinq ans, le cinéaste inuit Zacharias Kunuk avait créé la surprise avec Atanarjuat (The Fast Runner), production lauréate de la Caméra d'or au Festival de Cannes (prix remis au meilleur premier film, toutes sections confondues), et du prix du meilleur film canadien au Festival de Toronto. Avec son fidèle complice producteur et directeur photo Norman Cohn, qui cosigne cette fois la réalisation, Kunuk revient avec The Journals of Knud Rasmussen, une coproduction canado-danoise dans laquelle il s'attarde à décrire les bouleversements qu'a entraînés chez les peuples inuits leur rencontre avec des Blancs au début des années 20.

Marc-André Lussier, la Presse

Le Voir "The Journals of Knud Rasmussen: Choc des cultures " by manon Dumais, September 28th

"Si vous avez vu Atanarjuat - The Fast Runner, vous vous rappelez sûrement cette scène puissante où le héros, fuyant les assassins de son frère, courait nu sur les glaces d'Igloolik. En 2001, ce magnifique premier long métrage de Zacharias Kunuk avait séduit la critique et remporté notamment la Caméra d'or à Cannes. Après avoir raconté la légende de l'homme rapide, Kunuk et Norman Cohn, directeur photo d'Atanarjuat, nous transportent de nouveau à Igloolik, en 1922.."

Manon Dumais, Le Voir

Toronto Star "Silent Speech" by Susan Walker, September 7th

"The films of Zacharias Kunuk and Norman Cohn are unique in the contemporary movie world, not least because of their preference for long close-ups and what non-Inuit viewers would consider rather minimal dialogue.

“It's not that we're fascinated by people's faces” says Cohn sitting beside a more taciturn Kunuk in a Toronto hotel suite.

“What we are doing is recording a culture where you have to watch people in order to know what's going on."

Susan Walker, Toronto Star

CBC "Paradise Lost: The Journals of Knud Rasmussen remembers the last great Inuit shaman" by Rachel Giese, September 7th

"The creative partnership of Zacharias Kunuk and Norman Cohn dates back to the mid-1980s. That’s when Cohn, a video maker and native New Yorker, first travelled to Igloolik, Nunavut, to work with Kunuk, who worked at the Inuit Broadcasting Corp. In 1990, the pair incorporated their media collective, Isuma Productions (Inuktitut for “to think”), and proceeded to create documentary-like “re-lived dramas” Qaggiq, Nunaqpa, Saputi and the 13-part TV series Nunavut. But it was in 2000, with the release of their first feature film, Atanarjuat (The Fast Runner), that these friends and collaborators came to international attention. Based on an Inuit legend, the historical thriller was a critical sensation, netting director Kunuk the Camera d’Or at the 2001 Cannes Film Festival."

Rachel Giese, CBC

24 Images "Échange: Zacharias Kunuk et Norman Cohn" et "le Choc des cultures" propos recueillis et traduits de l'anglais par Pierre Barrette, September 2006


The Globe and Mail "The Arctic is suddenly hot" by Gayle MacDonald, September 30th

"Move over Burbank, Vancouver and Auckland. The new hot spot for filmmakers is the beautiful but unforgiving Arctic.

A slew of polar pictures have recently flashed across the big screen -- some art-house fare highlighting the delicate ecosystem (The White Planet), others crassly commercial (Disney's heart-tugger of a doggie tale, Eight Below) and now Larry Fessenden's new horror flick The Last Winter, where an unseen enemy steadily picks off a team sent to drill oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge."

Gayle MacDonald, The Globe and Mail

Ottawa Citizen "Inuit film opens Toronto fest" by Jay Stone, September 8

"The list of films is long, varied and impressive, the list of celebrities equally so. But on opening night at the Toronto International Film Festival, amid the buzz ofred-carpet rollouts and glammed-up star power, it was a movie about Canada's Inuit that was poised to steal the biggest spotlight."

Jay Stone, Ottawa Citizen

Sight and Sound "Everyday White" by S.F Said, September 2006


Inside E "Opening Night" by Barrett Hooper, September 4th

"The Toronto International Film Festival has programmed many films with unique visions of Canada in its previous 30 years, but possibly none as epic and dramatic as The Journals of Knud Rasmussen, this year's opening night gala presentation."

Barrett Hooper, Inside E

Playback "Inuit tale looks to make history at world premiere" by Etan Vlessing, September 4th

"The Toronto International Film Festival has programmed many films with unique visions of Canada in its previous 30 years, but possibly none as epic and dramatic as The Journals of Knud Rasmussen, this year's opening night gala presentation."

Etan Vlessing, Playback

The Walrus, "The Hunter Who Happens to Make Movies: The Art of Zacharias Kunuk" by Denis Seguin, September 4th

"The first time I shared a meal with Zacharias Kunuk, we were squatting over the steaming carcass of a freshly killed seal, eating its liver raw. The next time, we sat next to one another at a long table in a downtown Toronto restaurant. Kunuk was hesitating over the lengthy Italian-themed menu. "What are you having?" he asked. "Veal cutlets," I said. He opted for beefsteak, medium. The wine was Zinfandel Primitivo.."

Denis Seguin, The Walrus

The Globe and Mail, "Tragedy at the top of the world" by Gayle MacDonald, April 25th

"IGLOOLIK, NUNAVUT -- It is not yet 4:30 in the afternoon, and the moon hangs high in a seamless, blue Arctic sky. But already they are arriving at Ataguttaaluk High School in Igloolik. Women with chubby, red-cheeked babies bundled into amautiks, the traditional Inuit baby pouch, on their backs. Older kids pulled along in plastic toboggans. Men and their spouses or offspring crammed onto snowmobiles, some of whom have made the trek from Hall Beach, a community 75 kilometres south of this town, population 1,600, located at the top of the world."

Gayle MacDonald, The Globe and Mail

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