Canadian Painting

film 4 of 5

Eskimo Artist: Kenojuak

Film Review by Dean Duncan Mar 2, 2015

Here’s a combination of Paul Tomkowicz and Circle of the Sun, believe it or not. It’s not like all Inuit are alike, or that one Eskimo film marks all the rest. Unless it’s “Nanook,” and the fact is that the parallels are important. This is Flaherty-like in its sensitive, sympathetic, artful recreations. As with Flaherty, there are constructions and impositions too, but in this case the fact is sort of acknowledged. That would be a Griersonian component or a Griersonian equivalent: in the film, in the lives it portrays, we can see that modernity has happened, and at least a few of its consequences. This is also a bit Michel Brault 1963, except that this is not Aran or Quebec whales, but a real replacement or at least updating of the defunct craft. So, it’s not challenge for change, and it’s certainly not Atanarjuat. But it is great, not only a step forward in terms of cultural access to the means of communication, but in its own right. And there’s some City of Gold, to boot. The film’s first sequence is really impressive. The family’s journey through that cold night is fragmented and abstracted into formalized images. This will bring us to their art, which in parallel fashion stylizes and comprehends their actual lives. Cut! Note that beautiful print that they make, how it exactly matches that whole field full of gleaming puddles.