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For many, Greenland is somewhat of a quiet mystery. Like many places in the northern circumpolar, it’s a region few have visited but many have imagined. As one of the world’s largest Indigenous nations – almost 90% of the population is Inuit (Greenlandic) – Greenland is a place of strength, vitality and pride. Geographically a part of the North American continent, its ties to Denmark (which colonized it) remain strong, but so too are the people’s connection to Inuit in Canada.
Over the last 17 years, Greenlandic Inuit artists have picked up the camera, using film and video to reflect their cultures, humour and realities on the screen and to share with us the power and depth of their stories. For this year’s International Spotlight we are incredibly honoured and pleased to present – for the first time – a showcase of work by Inuit filmmakers from Greenland. These artists present a rich tapestry of comedy, horror and wonder in this collection, which has been guest programmed by Greenlandic filmmakers Pipaluk K. Jørgensen and Emile Hertling Péronard.
A Note on Greenlandic Cinema
By Emile Hertling Péronard, Guest Programmer
The midnight sun in summer. The northern lights in winter. The rugged mountains, frozen fjords, the never-ending ice cap. Greenland was made for filmmaking!
Since the dawn of cinema, Greenland has provided a spectacular backdrop for films of almost any genre – great films, like Erik Balling’s Qivittoq, which gave Denmark its very first Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Film back in 1956. But in almost a hundred years of filmmaking and through a variety of very diverse works of cinema, the films all had one thing in common: they were never made by Greenlanders.
When we saw them, they were like good-looking strangers: attractive, familiar, but still foreign. And more importantly, we didn’t recognize ourselves in them.
That’s why Sinilluarit (Goodnight) by Inuk Silis Høegh was a game changer. Released in 1999 as the first independently produced Greenlandic film, this 15-minute comedy has a universal theme – love and sexual frustration – but its humour is uniquely Greenlandic. The polar bear was out of the bag, but it took almost another ten years before Greenland’s first feature film came out.
Contrary to popular belief, this film was not Nuummioq (A Man From Nuuk) – the 2010 Sundance select that was presented as Greenland’s first international feature film (and which also screened at imagineNATIVE). In December 2008, 23-year-old Ujarneq Fleischer released Tikeq, Qiterleq, Mikileraq, Eqeqqoq (Fore Finger, Middle Finger, Ring Finger, Little Finger) in Greenland – writing a piece of film history that he produced by himself, starring himself and for a budget of $100 Canadian dollars.
Ujarneq’s debut film (which is screened here as part of the Spotlight) proved symptomatic for the subsequent wave of Greenlandic films and the rise of a small but devoted film community in Greenland, where films are produced on a combination of small budgets and big enthusiasm. Since 2008, roughly one feature-length film has been released every year. Increasing global interest in Greenlandic cinema has added to the speed of this nouvelle vague, and political interest and state production funding has risen accordingly.
From our position in one of the world’s youngest film industries, we the filmmakers of Greenland can now not only show the magnificent beauty of our filming location to the world. We can give you the full flavour of our rich culture, the qualities of our oral storytelling traditions and the complexity of modern life lived in the ever changing Arctic. We can tell our own stories on film. Made by us.
Pipaluk K. Jørgensen
Pipaluk K. Jørgensen finds her place in film, theatre and writing. She produced, wrote and directed her first theatre play age 26 and has since started her own production company, Karitas Productions, in Nuuk, the capital of Greenland, where she lives and works. Pipaluk is a central figure in Greenlandic cinema and works as a successful producer and director of shorts, features and documentaries. She received the Hans Lynge Cultural Award in 2015 and chairs the board of the recently founded Greenlandic Film Association, Film.GL. Her upcoming dramatic feature, Anori, is being presented in the work-in-progress screening of this year’s Spotlight.
Emile Hertling Péronard
Emile Hertling Péronard was born in Copenhagen but grew up in Nuuk with his Greenlandic mother and Danish father. He owns a self-titled production company in Copenhagen, Emile Peronard, and co-owns Á́norâk Film with Inuk Silis Høegh, based in Nuuk. Emile produced the award-winning SUMÉ – The Sound of a Revolution and is in production on numerous films. He is also highly active in promoting Greenlandic film content internationally, setting up talent initiatives for Greenlandic filmmakers and improving film production conditions in Greenland, in addition to serving on the board of FILM.GL.
Greenland Spotlight I: SUMÉ
Thursday, October 20, 4:45pm
TIFF Bell Lightbox, Cinema 3
Greenland Spotlight II: Fingers
Friday, October 21, 2:00pm
TIFF Bell Lightbox, Cinema 6
Greenland Spotlight III: Shorts
Saturday, October 22, 12:00pm
Greenland Spotlight IV: Greenland Rising (featuring Anori)
Sunday, October 23, 11:30am
TIFF Bell Lightbox, Cinema 4