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The Journals of Knud Rasmussen Reviews

Click on links to download complete PDF of reviews

"It puts so much into context: When you hear Inuit and First Nations people talk about cultural genocide, this is what it looks like." - Mari Sasano, Edmonton Journal

Edmonton Journal - Mari Sasano 061006

"The real drama is in the sorrowful disappearance of shamanism, Aua and his small tribe’s way of life, tradition, and source of comfort and joy. The very last scene, in which Aua, desperate to join forces, so as to share in their much-needed provisions, with an Inuit Christian tribe, reminded me of my response to Tarkovsky’s The Sacrifice: puzzled or downright alienated by the preceding action, the climax stuns with such emotional and visual impact that everything that has come before gets brilliantly illuminated. It’s an unforgettable moment, one that seems to piercingly express the destruction of an entire people’s culture." - Michael Joshua Rowin, Reverse Shot

Reverse Shot - Michael Joshua Rowin 061005

"The experience of watching The Journals of Knud Rasmussen is unexpectedly powerful — this is a film that works on the soul more than the brain.... It’s enough to say that trust in Cohn and Kunuk’s understated and risky approach pays off. This film is a rare and shattering look at an indigenous community facing its own cultural extinction. And the emotional wallop of beholding that struggle reverberates for days that follow." Rachel Giese, CBC.ca

CBC.ca - Rachel Giese 060929

"Kunuk and Cohn's film is filled with song, prompted both by anthropological curiosity (both Avva and Rasmussen ask the other to sing) and real-world events; the Inuit people seem to use song to express joy, sadness, and the grey area in between. Because the lyrics are almost never translated, the songs work on the audience as pure sound and emotion, and affect us on a very fundamental level. They bypass the brain and go straight to another, more basic part of our consciousness, acting with a totally unexpected power (and it's no accident that the dirge-like prayers sung by the converted Christians are the most jarring and exhausting in the film). The same is true of the emotions on display." Martha Fischer, Cinematical

Cinematical - Martha Fischer 060909

"When it appears that the yarn's disparate strands are unrelated and unfocused, the film-makers exact an
extraordinary sleight of hand.... It occurs so quickly and organically it cannot help but leave one breathless. What
translated as random and sometime anecdotal crystallises into major tragedy and one's early reservations are
largely reduced to petty carping." Len Klady, Screen Daily

Screen Daily - Len Klady 060908

"The Journals is a film shot with high definition cameras by a nomadic people with no written history, but a rich and ancient oral culture....We may find the lack of formal film structure odd, but there is no mistaking its message. In abandoning the old ways - in effect, the film states, being starved unto Jesus - the Inuit lost the crucial sense of community that afforded them a living in the snow and ice. They lost their way, and became refugees, on their own land, in one of the richest countries on Earth. No wonder Toronto's suits were squirming." 4 Stars, John Griffin, Montreal Gazette

Montreal Gazette - John Griffin 060929

The Journals of Knud Rasmussen Interviews and Features

Click on links to download complete PDF

"From an international filmmaking perspective, the pressure is immense. If Atanarjuat represented a leap forward both in fiction and filmmaking, Rasmussen will confirm the genius of its co-creators or send them back into obscurity. But I can't help feeling that Kunuk, the hunter who happens to be a filmmaker, will not care or even notice one way or another. He's been doing his thing for twenty years; a bad notice isn't going to stop him any more than some bad weather would keep him from hunting." - Denis Seguin, The Walrus, 'The Hunter Who Happens to Make Movies: The Art of Zacharias Kunuk.'

The Walrus - Denis Seguin June 2006

"Inuit people are storytellers. Four thousand years we have been passing stories to our youth. We saw other films being made about the north where you could see your woman's seal oil lamp turned the wrong way around and the production doesn't really care. One time I saw our seal oil lamp was a torch like the big Olympic flame. [laughter] It is important we tell our stories from our Inuit point of view." Zacharias Kunuk, 2002 Spry Memorial Lecture, Simon Fraser University, 'The Public Art of Inuit Storytelling.'

2002 Spry Memorial Lecture - Zacharias Kunuk 021125

"'Shamanism was here, and it's going to be here, that's what my elders tell me. After Atanarjuat, the elders started to talk about shamanism more. With this film, because their families are in this community, people learned about their namesakes. We live by namesakes. When I was born, I was given five names, but the government couldn't pronounce them so we were given tags and family names.'" Interview with Zacharias Kunuk by Mari Sasano, Edmonton Journal

Edmonton Journal - Interview with Zacharias Kunuk 061006

"I don't know the men who made this film, but I can imagine them. I see them as men who come into the world loaded with their own cultural capital, free of the sense of victimization that cripples our communities into a crazy kind of paralysis. I am awed and inspired by the filmmakers who can take a very European document like Rasmussen's journals and create a specifically Inuit film from them that also serves every Indigenous community as it does. I am further awed and inspired that it shows non-Indigenous people exactly how the madness in our world came about. The next time someone asks, 'What happened, why are Aboriginal people so violent?' I will simply say, 'Watch The Journals of Knud Rasmussen.'" Lee Maracle, Mapping Our Way Through History: Reflections on Knud Rasmussen's Journals

Mapping Our Way - Lee Maracle 2008

"You had to become Christian. I remember the day I was baptized in 1963, when I was six years old. We dog-teamed into this community and we were in the church. My two brothers and sister and I were sitting on a bench, the stove warming up a tea pot that was going to be used to baptize us. My parents are very religious. Probably I learned the idea of good and evil from them, black and white. The day I was baptized the person who was going to baptize me was wearing a black robe. I thought, "It's the devil himself!" I was so scared that my mother had to take me out. Maybe if he had been wearing a white robe it would have been okay, but everything was black." Zacharias Kunuk Speaks with Joysanne Sidimus

Zacharias Kunuk Speaks with Joysanne Sidimus 2004

"As video artists in the first decades of a medium whose distinct character finally reveals itself in high-definition, we have responsibilities to a second, universal audience of which Inuit are a part. We explore changes in storytelling made possible by unique properties video brings to narrative representation. In particular, digital transparency allows visualizing Time in three dimensions - duration, quality and simultaneity – with an illusion of actuality that lends human emotions new urgency. As agents in our own lives, and spectators of others, we recognize authentic meaning only in emotions experienced in ‘real time’; that is, not the fake and fractured time of conventional filmmaking but the three-dimensional time of real life." - Norman Cohn, When your work speaks for itself, don't interrupt

When your work - Norman Cohn 2008

"In January 2008, Isuma Publishing released a new book, The Journals of Knud Rasmussen: A Sense of Memory and High-definition Inuit Storytelling. This book includes the complete original screenplay in English and Inuktitut of The Journals, Isuma's second feature film in The Fast Runner Trilogy after Atanarjuat The Fast Runner, and 25 pieces of writing reflecting on themes of memory, history and Isuma's approach to filmmaking as Inuit storytelling. Edited by Gillian Robinson, writers include Lee Maracle, Floyd Favel, Hugh Brody, Alberto Manguel, Alootook Ipillee and others." - Selected Writings

Selected Writings 2008

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