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    Atanarjuat, the Fast Runner

    Native stun

    The boldly innovative "Atanarjuat" provides an amazing glimpse into the culture of the Canadian Inuit while telling an almost mythical tale.


    (Originally reviewed at the 2002 New Directors, New Films festival)

    After a century of evolution, movies share a few things with a bowl of Japanese noodles. Rather than trying each time to invent a new way to cook ramen, soba, or udon, bliss is more often the ability to execute what's familiar with flavor, balance, and texture — at our most hopeful, this consists of a plot that requires thought to process, and characters that do not.

    Directed by: Zacharias Kunuk.
    Written by: Paul Apak Angilirq.
    Cast: Natar Ungalaaq, Sylvia Ivalu, Peter-Henry Arnatsiaq, Lucy Tulugarjuk, Madeline Ivalu, Paul Qulitalik, Eugene Ipkarnak, Pakkak Innushuk..
    In Inuktitut with English subtitles.
    Museum of Modern Art
    New Directors/New Films Festival
    11 West 53rd St.
    Saturday, March 30 at 8PM and Sunday, March 31 at 11:30AM
    (212) 708-9500

    New Directors New Films 2002
  • Overview
  • Atanarjuat (The Fast Runner)
  • El Bola
  • Delbaran
  • Jeunesse Doree
  • Orphan of Anyang
  • Real Women Have Curves
  • The Slaughter Rule
  • 2001 festival
  • But once in a while, somebody comes along with an entirely new pickle. "Atanarjuat," winner of the Camera d'Or at Cannes 2001 and a coterie of Canadian and European festival awards, has been credited with such a breakthrough. The first feature-length film to emerge from the Canadian Inuit, Zacharias Kunuk's debut will be part of New Directors/New Films on March 30 and 31, prior to Lot 47's limited release in New York on June 7.

    The story, while tasty, is not what thrills the creative palate. Like Shakespeare or Greek myth, "Atanarjuat" maneuvers its simple tale around the bright orange signposts of human shortcoming — murder, sex, power and betrayal. The mythical film offers something else: a nose-against-glass view of an ancient civilization seldom staged and shot, in the tongue-clucking tones of Inuktitut, a final linguistic frontier.

    The title refers to an ancient myth, and the myth is named after a legendary Inuit who bolts naked across an icy expanse to escape a trio of killers wielding spears. The aggressors, notable as bad guys due not least to their unfair advantage, are attempting once and for all to win an ancestral rivalry, and they are assisted by the spirit of an evil shaman who introduced a reign of darkness into Igloolik, the close-knit community where they all reside. The scene is the plot's pivotal centerpiece, and it, like the rest of the film, is visually spectacular.

    MARCH 31, 2002

    Reader comments on Atanarjuat, the Fast Runner:

  • The Fast Runner   from Gordon Lasher, Jul 11, 2002
  • Una obra maestra   from David Garcia, Feb 4, 2003
  • The Fast Runner   from Mary, Gaithersburg, MD, Apr 20, 2003
  • THE MOVIE   from PAT, Jul 9, 2003
  • Re: THE MOVIE   from Dpm, Oct 4, 2003
  • To the Inuit Tribe/people   from Miss Tess, Nov 8, 2003

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