Inuk filmmaker Zacharias Kunuk (Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner) returns with this Arctic epic inspired by the classic John Ford western of the same name, about a vengeful husband who sets off in pursuit of the violent men who kidnapped his wife and destroyed his home.
Maliglutit () Searchers
Fifteen years ago, Inuk filmmaker Zacharias Kunuk won the prestigious Caméra d'or for Best First Feature at Cannes with Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner. His second feature, the equally fine The Journals of Knud Rasmussen, opened TIFF in 2006. Now, 10 years later, Kunuk has made another film along with collaborator Natar Ungalaaq, a work that continues to examine the people and landscapes of his native North.
Inspired this time not by oral legends or journals but by John Ford's 1956 western The Searchers, Kunuk and Ungalaaq have hewed close to the basics of that plot while making a film very different in tone and feel. The Searchers is essentially a revenge film: in the original, a white girl was kidnapped by members of the Comanche nation; in Kunuk's version, an Inuk woman is kidnapped by her own people. But it is the repercussions of these acts of violence that both films explore. Here, a family is torn apart in the vast spaces of the Arctic, when marauding men desperate for conquest break into an igloo with intent to kidnap. When the husband returns to find his home ransacked, he vows revenge.
Against a barren, wintry landscape, a band of maliglutit ("followers") sets out to rescue the captives. It is an arduous journey across the tundra and, along the way, the theme changes from one of justifiable revenge to one of self-examination, as the film questions whether these hunters, ostensibly the heroes, have begun to act like those who have violated their family.
With a tale as timeless as the landscape in which it is set, Canada's foremost Inuk filmmaker has provided us with another classic.