Iqaluit filmmaker Alethea Arnaquq-Baril is being recognized at this year's Toronto International Film Festival as one of the top women in film.
The Birks Diamond Tribute to the Year's Women in Film takes place at TIFF on Sept. 12.
"It's exciting, of course. A little bit weird, too," said Arnaquq-Baril. "I've never been to the TIFF festival. It's a huge one, obviously, so I'm looking forward to going and meeting other people."
She is one of 12 recipients of the award — which include five directors, five actors and two screenwriters. They were selected by a pan-Canadian jury of 27 journalists and bloggers covering the world of art, culture and entertainment.
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Another of this year's recipients is Kawennáhere Devery Jacobs, who starred in The Sun at Midnight, which was filmed in 2015 in Fort McPherson, N.W.T.
"It's a beautiful film," said Arnaquq-Baril, "and she was brilliant in it, so I'm looking forward to meeting her."
The award aims to raise the profile of women directors, actors and screenwriters.
"For filmmakers like me that are smaller companies and living in remote place far away from the rest of the film industry, it's very helpful to have this kind of recognition because it's never easy to raise money for a documentary," she said.
Arnaquq-Baril's documentary Angry Inuk came out in 2016. She has won a number of awards for the film, which outlines the impacts of anti-sealing campaigns on Inuit.
Arnaquq-Baril believes it's important for Inuit filmmakers to tell the stories of Inuit and their issues.
"When you have non-Inuit people telling stories about Inuit people, sometimes — quite often, actually — they end up just making the same stereotypes over and over again," Arnaquq-Baril said.
"We know our own families and communities better than outsiders so we're going to have more interesting stories to tell, and different stories to tell."
Arnaquq-Baril said she gets contacted by a lot of non-Inuit directors and producers and writers that want to do work about Inuit or access Inuit funding sources.
"And they almost always have the same story in their head. It involves violence towards women, drunken people and often spirit-helper animals or a wise, old hunter that barely talks and gives wisdom to the white guy," she said.
"That's the story that gets told over and over again if we don't tell our own stories."