Magazine article Variety

Tiff Filmmakers to Watch

Magazine article Variety

Tiff Filmmakers to Watch

Article excerpt

Zacharias Kunuk

Few people have been able to give a voice to Indigenous culture through film quite like Zacharias Kunuk, a Canadian Inuk filmmaker whose Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner, not only won the Camera d'Or at the Cannes film festival in 2001, but was also the first dramatic pic to be produced entirely in Inuktitut.

His latest film, Maliglutit (Searchers) is a foray into the Western genre, but with an Inuit twist. Growing up, Kunuk has heard stories of women kidnapped and wanted to imagine what it would be like to live through or witness such a kidnapping.

He was determined to anchor the production in his home community of Igloolik and engaged hunters, carvers, seamstress, and even circus performers to lend their skills, shooting in temperatures around minus 104F/40C. It was an unconventional production team, to say the least - most of whom had never worked on a film before.

Kunuk is currently shooting a new 7 part documentary series, Hunting With My Ancestors, about an ancient way of life and is exec producing a first feature film by the Haida Nation, Edge of Knife.

Ann Marie Fleming

Fleming has long held a fascination with the themes of family, identity, history, and memory. With Window Horses, an animated feature, she explores many of these themes through the eyes of Rosie Ming, a twenty-yearold poet who lives with her over-protective Chinese grandparents whose entire world opens up when she attends a poetry festival in Iran.

Amongst the voices in the film, there's one belonging to Sandra Oh, who also came on board as exec producer. "Sandra and I have been trying to work together for 20 years," says Fleming, "She has completely been a megaphone for this film and its message of peace and understanding, curiosity and openness, and its representativeness in terms of cultural diversity and strong female voices."

Though not always obvious to those who meet her, Fleming herself is of mixed race, born in Japan to Chinese and Australian parents, so she has always been interested in stories of diaspora "and of acknowledging histories that are invisible, whether its who you are, where you came from or something that you've experienced that no one would know unless you told them."

She was inspired by Iranian cinema, poetry, and by the stories coming from the Iranian diaspora. Persian culture and everyday contemporary life is not so different from Chinese culture, she says.

"I wanted to be able to show what we have in common, to show people not politics. …

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