Honored at Dreamspeakers International Film Festival
Iqaluit, NU and Halifax, NS, June 11, 2007 – The ancient Inuit teaching story, Kiviuq, received new honors at Dreamspeakers 12th annual International Aboriginal Film & Television Festival in Edmonton. Filmmaker John Houston’s portrayal of Inuit shaman Kiviuq’s epic journey won the medal for ‘Best Documentary Film,’ one of only four awards presented at the Festival’s June 9 Awards Night.
“I learned in school that all the great teaching stories were from long ago and far away,” says Houston. “Ancient wherever, but not ancient Canada. My filmmaking challenges that notion.”
Houston accepted the award on behalf of the elders of Nunavut, many of whom he interviewed for several hours, during a 2004 quest across the territory to learn Kiviuq’s story.
“Kiviuq’s story is largely unwritten,” says Houston. “It survived for millennia by being performed… by burning itself into people’s minds. So it felt right to us, and to our broadcaster APTN, that ‘Kiviuq’ be a performing arts piece. But the elders in our little acting troupe have known their lines since childhood. When they broke the silence imposed by the missionaries to pass Kiviuq on to younger generations, it was performance – but also first-hand testimony.”
Kiviuq stars actor Lamech Kadloo as the titular hero, alongside storytelling
elders Samson Quinangnaq, Annie Peterloosie and Henry Evaluardjuk. Although Kiviuq
was just released in January of this year, both Quinangnaq and Evaluardjuk have
passed away, underscoring the grave importance of recording these ancient stories
while elders survive who can tell them.
“I got the shivers when elder Samson Quinangnaq called the story of Kiviuq the ‘secret Bible of the Inuit,’ as he told it for seven hours from memory,” says Houston. “I remember thinking, ‘His performance is epic. I could be sitting in an ancient Greek marketplace with some fellow named Homer -but I’m here. And it’s now. And I am Canada’s luckiest guy.’
Kiviuq is scheduled to screen at a number of film festivals across Canada and internationally throughout 2007 and 2008, and it will be re-broadcast on the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN).
Kiviuq is a Drumsong Communications production, and was created in part with the support of Telefilm Canada, the Canadian Television Fund – License Fee Program, Nunavut Films, Nova Scotia Film Development Corporation, Strategic Investment Program and the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network. drumsong is a majority Nunavut Inuit owned film, television and new media production company, with offices in Iqaluit, Nunavut and Halifax, Nova Scotia.