North

Four Inuit artists nominated for Canadian Screen Awards

Zacharias Kunuk, Nadia Mike, Jennie Williams and Tanya Tagaq are in the running for major national awards.

Zacharias Kunuk, Nadia Mike, Jennie Williams and Tanya Tagaq are in the running

Jennie Williams is an Inuk photographer and filmmaker from Labrador. Her film Nalujuk Night has been nominated for Best Short Documentary. (Submitted by iNuit Blanche)

Works by Inuit filmmakers, producers and creatives are being celebrated at the Canadian Screen Awards this year. 

One of the films nominated for best animated short, Angakusajaujuq: The Shaman's Apprentice, was by Zacharias Kunuk, and produced by Kunuk and Nadia Mike. 

Angakusajaujuq is about a young shaman who has to travel underground to visit Kannaaluk, The One Blow, to find out why a member of her community has fallen ill. 

Kunuk, who lives in Igloolik, Nunavut, said he is "honoured and excited" to have been nominated for the award. 

Inuk filmmaker Zacharias Kunuk. "I love to hear stories of how our ancestors used to live and how they went through hard times, good times. It's a passion I love." (Matt Barnes)

"We're really, really proud of what we've done," he said. "And it's a terrific story, the true story of a young lady being trained to be a shaman. It's a story I heard in the mid-1980s, when I was just starting out."

Kunuk says he never has awards on his mind while he's working on a film: "You just make the film the best you can, and if people like it, you win."

On the other hand, winning awards and doing well on the festival circuit makes it that much easier to take on the next project. Kunuk, whose breakout feature was the 2001 Cannes Caméra d'Or  winning Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner, says he has many more films in his future.

A still from Angakusajaujuq - The Shaman's Apprentice. The stop motion project directed by Zacharias Kunuk has been nominated for best animated short. (Taqqut Productions, Kingulliit Productions. 2021)

"There's a lot of different types of films," he said. "Some are women's issues, children's issues. I like to work in my culture, looking back into history, even prehistoric times.

"I love to hear stories of how our ancestors used to live and how they went through hard times, good times. It's a passion I love."

Jennie Williams' film Nalujuk Night has been nominated for Best Short Documentary.

It's about the Labrador Inuit tradition where Nalujuit come in from the Eastern sea ice.

Williams, who lives in Torbay, N.L., has been working on this film for the last four years. 

"My film is very unique," said Williams. "It's about a tradition in northern Labrador that probably not a lot of people have heard of before. Even in our own province, a lot of people have never heard of it. And it's a very strong Inuit tradition still to this day."

Nalujuk Night is a 13-minute documentary about the Labrador Inuit tradition where Nalujuit come in from the Eastern sea ice (National Film Board of Canada)

When she heard she had been nominated for the award, Williams thought it was because her film is "new and different" — along with using her photography experience and filming the documentary in black and white, she also wanted to create an immersive experience. 

"In the way that I did the film, I tried to make it so that the person would feel like they were actually there as the tradition was happening," she said. 

Williams said being nominated for the award "means a lot" to her, both as an artist and as someone who loves to share her love for Inuit culture and traditions with a wider audience. 

"I love to share with others the little pieces of Labrador," she said. "It's so different from the big cities. It's a different way of life, and I love sharing our culture with other people. And also, I like to document it so it's captured for ourselves, too; for our own people."

Singer Tanya Tagaq's song “Surface Nord” was nominated for the 2022 Achievement in Music Original Song at the Canadian Screen Awards. (Thomas van der Zaag/The Canadian Press)

Tanya Tagaq's song "Surface Nord" was also nominated for the 2022 Achievement in Music Original Song.

The Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television presents the awards on Sunday, April 10.

It will be broadcast on CBC TV.

With files from Elena Akammak

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