Inuit Short Film Makes the Oscars Short List

The adaptation of a traditional Inuit tale into an animated short film entitled Angakusajaujuq: The Shaman’s Apprentice has been selected for the final round of the Oscar race, according to Eye on the Arctic.

Along with 14 other nominees, 5 of which are Canadian, the animated feature directed by Zacharias Kunuk is in the running for the Oscar for Best Animated Short Film.

The animated short film, which is primarily aimed at children, is inspired by an Inuit myth from northern Baffin Island. It tells the story of a young shaman in the making who faces her first spiritual journey.M. Kunuk originally gained international recognition for his film Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner, the first feature film made in Inuktitut. It won the Caméra d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival back in 2001.

Discovering Inuit shamanism

Through the main character’s quest, the director hopes to make the Inuit proud of their spiritual traditions by putting shamanism at the heart of his movie.

“In the Inuit culture long before the Europeans came, we have heard stories of how they would heal the sick, in the time of Shamans and helping spirits that rule the land, in the land of sky goddess, land goddess and the sea goddess,” explains director Zacharias Kunuk in a press release.

“This film is based on a story I heard in 1980 from an elder woman named Niviatiaq, adds M. Kunuk. I was interviewing her and her husband about shamanism in our Amittuq region around Igloolik, and she told me this story of how shamans would make trips to the underworld to heal the sick or find answers about a taboo that had been broken.”

“This incredible story of journeying to the underworld has stayed in my mind ever since.” Zacharias Kunuk, director

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