Natar Ungalaaq - Actor (Nuqallaq)
What did you think of Atanarjuat’s success?
It was a very successful film, and I was pretty shocked about that. I knew it was successful when Zack called to tell me that he had won the Camera d’or at the Cannes Film Festival. That was pretty shocking! That time was more like a miracle. Personally, back home, I had a pretty good audience who really liked that story. Other settlements had kids who were fans, but here at home I had some kids calling me Atanarjuat [because I played the lead in that film].
How long have you been at Isuma?
Well, I’ve been here since 1994, after I left IBC (Inuit Broadcasting Corporation). I left IBC because I hit a brick wall. I searched for a place where I could do stuff that I could believe in. I thought it was better to do it independently. IBC is pretty limited in its programming, and I wanted more space to get things done properly. The idea that we want to do independent films is very important.
What are your roles in the Journals of Knud Rasmussen?
My role in this project is to be an actor. If they come up with something else for me to do, then I’ll do it, too. But mainly, I’m an actor.
How important is the community to this project?
It’s pretty important, but the main point is that we know have experience doing this kind of project. The main difficulty in making films before for us was that we weren’t really sure if there was a place for us in the movie business. But now, this being our second time, we know that we’re really in the film industry. From the outside it looks pretty easy, but on the inside is was hard.
Any problems so far?
We’ve had just little problems with the rehearsals. Time is pretty tight.
Can you describe your character?
My character’s name is Nuqallaq, he’s the son of Umik. He’s a young man who’s experienced the white man coming in to adopt a different way of approaching them. This man is interested in doing things the white man’s way. He’s helping them, using different materials. He speaks a little bit of English, so he’s a bridge from his father to the white men. His father doesn’t speak English, and he doesn’t write or read in Inuktitut or English, so Nuqallaq helps his father to see the new Christianity. He’s the real bridge to his father.
Any advice for aspiring actors?
It looks pretty easy from the outside to be an actor and to participate in a production, but it’s pretty hard sometimes. Sometimes it’s not always easy to be an actor - believe me! You have to hop from being one character to another character to another one to another one, so you have to fit the mask and put it on. You have to bend your mind around the character and use the dialogue to become that person.
Can you walk me through a typical day?
Sometimes it depends on when I read the script, I go back in the morning and try to stick to that. I am who I am, an actor, and I have to believe in that story. I try to adopt that morning until night. If you’re trying to be an actor for that role, that’s the part that makes you different, a different man or woman.
Any plans for after this project?
I have already lined up two films that I really want to be involved in. The first is an American movie in Anchorage, but I have a little question mark around that one because there’s another film that has popped up for 2006 and I’m really going for that because I believe in the story. It’s mainly based in Pond Inlet, but it’s about Tuberculosis (TB) and a lot of people died from that. Some of the graves contain bodies that still haven’t been identified. So that’s a big thing that I want to do, because I want to dedicate that part to some of my relatives. A lot of people lost their relatives to TB in the early 1900’s. That’s another story that I really want to be involved in, and I believe that I’m going to play the main role. I’m really looking forward to that. For this project, I wasn’t concentrating on getting the main role, because the opportunity should be given to someone else who has been preparing for such a role. I can’t be the main character all the time, I don’t want to do it. I don’t mind it once and a while but there’s a good bridge between being an actor and being behind the camera. I love being behind the camera. too, because that’s the part I’ve been focusing on from the start. Someday I’d like to direct, if I get the right people. It depends on the workers who know and love what they do. If you have all these people lined up to be a team, I believe I can direct them.