Drama, First Nations + Métis + Inuit, Human Rights, Canada's Top Ten
For decades, Zacharias Kunuk has been one of the most exciting, dynamic, and innovative filmmakers in Canada and, indeed, the world. With his award-winning Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner, Kunuk introduced a film language that combined myth, history, and folklore, an approach evident in subsequent films like The Journals of Knud Rasmussen and Maliglutit (Searchers). His latest, One Day in the Life of Noah Piugattuk, hinges on a pivotal 1961 encounter between the title character (Apayata Kotierk) and other community leaders, and a Canadian government emissary (Kim Bodnia) who has come to ask them to relocate their families to permanent settlements and send their children to school. Kunuk employs approaches he used in previous films, but there are also elements of cultural comedy in the contrast between pragmatic Inuit and the incomprehensible expectations of the government agent.
Those demands will ultimately carry enormous gravity. Behind what seems to the hunters like odd requests from the government agent is a policy that will mean a fundamental rupture in the lives of Inuit. The real Noah Piugattuk was born in 1900 and lived to be 96 years old. In that time he saw the decline of traditional practices dating back thousands of years, and the creation of a new relationship with the Canadian colonial state. In this one day — and this fateful meeting — Kunuk condenses much about Inuit–settler relations. The emotional and historical layers in the film make it one of his finest works.
Official Selection, 2019 Toronto International Film Festival