The Journals of Knud Rasmussen Zacharias Kunuk and Norman Cohn

Set in the Arctic Circle in 1922, the film takes as its source material the titular journals of a Danish explorer who chronicled the meeting and journey of a group of European explorers with an Inuit shaman and his family. The film’s story, however, is told from the perspective of the Inuit family. Aging shaman Avva (Pakak Innukshuk) is trying to maintain the traditional way of life while dealing with rebellious daughter Apak (Leah Angutimarik), who communes sexually and spiritually with her dead husband while ignoring her living husband (a marriage that was brokered as part of a peace treaty). At the same time, the influence of the recent arrival of white Europeans is starting to sway some members of the community hungry for new opportunities and Christianity begins to replace traditional beliefs. The film’s amazing visual treatment goes between showing the stark beauty of the vast landscape, with the ubiquitous sound of snow crunching and wind blowing, and offering an intimate look at the story's characters with a liberal use of extreme close-ups. It’s a very vivid portrait of the Inuit community, not at all a stilted historical museum piece but rather filled with heightened emotions and the resulting sounds of laughing, singing and crying. The film has some dramatised interviews lifted directly from the journals, which are informative in explaining the cultural customs but serve to detour from the main story, which is far more engrossing. What is fascinating and devastating about the film is watching the beginning of the cultural transformation and seeing what will be lost. (Alliance Atlantis)