Greenland films in the spotlight this year at imagineNATIVE festival

This year’s imagineNATIVE film and media arts festival in Toronto will feature a heavy dose of Inuit films with an international spotlight on Greenland, one of the world’s newest and smallest film industries.

“We are experiencing a lot more focus now internationally,” says Emile Hertling Péronard, a Greenlandic filmmaker and guest programmer at this year’s imagineNATIVE festival.

“We try to ride this wave to really build a proper film community or industry in Greenland for Greenlandic filmmakers.”


Anori, a dramatic feature film from Greenland currently in post-production, will be screened at imagineNATIVE’s Greenland Rising panel on Oct. 23. (imagineNATIVE)

The 17th annual festival, which runs Oct. 19-23, will showcase an international spotlight on Greenland, featuring a number of works by Inuit, Greenlandic filmmakers including the award-winning documentary produced by Emile Hertling Péronard, SUMÉ – Mumisitsinerup Nipaa (SUMÉ – The Sound of a Revolution); and the comedy Tikeq, Qiterleq, Mikileraq, Eqeqqoq (Fore Finger, Middle Finger, Ring Finger, Little Finger), Greenland’s first feature film that was made on a $100 budget.

Greenland Rising, a discussion on Greenland’s cinema, will also include a screening of Pipaluk K. Jorgensen’s Anori, a dramatic feature film currently in post-production.

This year’s program will also feature work by two Nunavut Inuit filmmakers — Alethea Arnaquq-Baril’s documentary Angry Inuk, which opens the festival, and Zacharias Kunuk’s feature film Maliglutit (Searchers).

film still SUMÉ – The Sound of a Revolution

The award-winning documentary produced by Emile Hertling Péronard, SUMÉ – The Sound of a Revolution, is being screened for the second time at imagineNATIVE. (submitted by Emile Hertling Péronard)

“These stories are new, even though Indigenous peoples are ancient storytellers and contemporary storytellers and have storytelling as part of their culture and tradition and being,” says Jason Ryle, imagineNATIVE’s artistic director.

From objects to subjects in films


A film still from Qivittoq, Kaare Sylvest Pedersen’s first short drama, and one of the Greenlandic films at this year’s imagineNATIVE festival. (submitted by imagineNATIVE)

Hertling Péronard says films from the circumpolar world are getting more attention because of the international focus on Arctic sovereignty and climate change in the Arctic.

“I think this global attention is also encouraging programmers and other people internationally to delve into the art forms of these areas,” he says.

Technological developments in the film industry and the availability of cheaper recording and editing equipment is now making it possible for Greenlandic filmmakers to produce their own work, he says.


STG, a short Greenlandic documentary by Aka Hansen, is part of this year’s program. (submitted by imagineNATIVE)

“Our own identity is at stake when we talk about films from countries with small populations because we’ve seen a lot of filmmakers coming in from abroad, especially from Denmark, to do films about Greenland and we’ve never really recognized ourselves in these films, so I think we also felt an urge to try and tell our own stories,” says Hertling Péronard.

Since 2008 there’s been a surge of new films from Greenland with approximately one feature-length film released each year. 

Similar communities, similar stories

While there’s little collaboration at the moment between Greenlandic filmmakers and their Inuit counterparts in Canada, Hertling Péronard says there’s a great deal of commonality between the two communities.

“We’ve been very surprised to see how much relevance and awareness our film about the Greenlandic cultural identity movement had gained in Canada and how much they tell us that their story is the same,” he says.

He says he hopes festivals like imagineNATIVE make it possible for Inuit artists to come together and explore common issues.

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