The Williams Lake Film Club will screen The Fast Runner for its first selection for 2018. The Fast Runner was the first feature film ever to be written, directed and acted entirely in the Inuktitut language.

Williams Lake Film Club screens The Fast Runner

The Fast Runner was the first feature film ever to be written, directed and acted entirely in the Inuktitut language.

Krista Liebe

Special to the Tribune

The Williams Lake Film Club wishes all of its friends, its supporters and members a most wonderful New Year – and please, no wildfires. Let’s begin the second part of our season with a great film this coming Friday, Jan. 12, 2018, at the Central Cariboo Arts Centre. Again, the film starts at 7 p.m. and doors open at 6:30 p.m. Our wonderful greeter, Gabi Weiand, will once again see you at the door, chat, laugh, and simply make you feel so very welcome.

The Fast Runner, our first film for 2018, certainly is a great film in every way. Not only is it 172 minutes long, just eight minutes shy of three hours, it is the first Canadian film ever written, directed and acted entirely in the Inuktitut language.

Also, in 2015 a poll of film makers and critics in the Toronto International Film Festival actually proclaimed it the greatest Canadian film of all time. The film which previously held this title was Mon Oncle Antoine, released in 1971.

The film takes place in Igloolik, “place of houses,” in the eastern Arctic wilderness at the dawn of the first millennium. It is interesting that it also was filmed right there, in Igloolik, Nunavut. It is an epic tale of love, betrayal, and revenge set in motion by an evil force brought to the village of Igloolik by a mysterious shaman who puts a curse on the people. It tells the story of Atanarjuat, an unassuming young man who falls in love with Atuat, whose hand has already been promised to the scheming Oki, the son of the tribal chief. Atanarjuat doesn’t think he’s strong enough to fight Oki and relies on his older brother, the powerful Amaqjuaq, to look out for him.

Eventually the jealous Oki challenges Atanarjuat to a brutal contest for Atuat’s hand. Atanarjuat wins and weds his love, but his problems are far from over. While Atuat is pregnant, Oki’s sister, the flirtatious Puja, seduces Atanarjuat and becomes his second wife. She disrupts Atanarjuat’s family from within while Oki plans his revenge.

As many characters are introduced in the film, it is quite important to keep this basic story line in mind.

Conceived by the late Paul Apak Angilirq, who co-wrote the screenplay, the film was shot on widescreen digital video by Norman Cohn, one of the few non-Inuit crew members. The cinematography is often quite unbelievable and definitely unforgettable.

The director Zacharias Kunuk and his crew meticulously re-created the conditions the Inuit tribes lived in before exposure to southern influences, using information handed down from tribe elders and the journals of Captain William Edward Parry, a British explorer who visited the area in 1822. This definitely is a very important film showing a vital part of Canadian history.

A major critical success, The Fast Runner won the Caméra d’Or at Cannes in 2001 and subsequently six Genie Awards.

Before starting the film there was a lack of funding available from Telefilm and the Canadian government, which prioritized English and French-language productions over the languages of Aboriginal Peoples in Canada and would not provide more than $100,000 for a film in an Aboriginal language. Kunuk, the director, regarded this as racial discrimination and he and his supporters appealed for support of the National Film Board of Canada. Although the NFB had abandoned fiction, the director then argued that in documenting Inuit mythology, The Fast Runner was similar to a documentary film. The budget was approved at $1.96 million.

Please bring a pillow for your seat as well as some slippers for comfort. There will be a break to get a cup of tea and some cookies, and to have a tinkle.

Admission is $10 regular, $8 for film club members, and $6 for seniors (65+) and students, High School and TRU.

All proceeds are used to support the WL Tutoring Services to help children with learning problems to obtain one-on-one tutoring.

Our winter/spring season 2018 is a bit different – it is an all Canadian season and we hope that you will really enjoy it!

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