An Inuk actor got a nod from the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television this year with a Canadian Screen Awards nomination in the category of best performance by an actor in a supporting role for his portrayal of Noah in the film Iqaluit.
The award ceremony is March 11 in Toronto and win or lose, Natar Ungalaaq will be celebrating because the 11th is also his daughter's birthday.
Ungalaaq had worked with Iqaluit's director Benoît Pilon before as the leading actor in Pilon's film The Necessities of Life (Ce qu'il faut pour vivre). It follows an lnuk man taken from his northern home to be treated in Quebec City for tuberculosis.
In that role, he won a Genie and a Jutra (a Quebec Cinema award, now known as the Prix Iris).
Ungalaaq says Pilon convinced him he was a good fit to play the character of Noah.
"It started off with the director who really believed I could play that role and I accepted that as a fact — as an aside [I want to thank] him again for making another film to represent Inuit," Ungalaaq said.
He says he loved the writing in the film and the story's construction.
'Accepting myself as an actor'
The movie follows a woman from Montreal whose husband works in Iqaluit. When her husband hits his head, she comes up North to figure out what happened, and Ungalaaq's character helps her, while simultaneously trying to keep his son from dying by suicide.
Ungalaaq first got into acting in the early 1990s working on the documentary, Kabloonak, which explores how the 1922 documentary Nanook of the North was partially staged.
Then he played Atanarjuat in Atanarjuat/The Fast Runner, one of the most well-received Canadian films of all time.
"I began accepting myself as an actor, I did it because no one else wanted to get in front of the camera."
Though he says, in addition to acting he still likes operating a camera and directing.
Right now, he's hoping to get into more documentary work and is currently part of a project to tell the story of how the Nunavut Agreement came to be.
He's also a carver and hopes to take some time before the screen awards to indulge in his artwork, something he hasn't done much of recently because he's been too busy.
Inuk filmmaker Asinnajaq is also nominated for best short documentary for her film Three Thousand.