Maliglutit (Searchers)


Director Zacharias Kunuk

Screenplay Zacharias Kunuk, Norman Cohn

With Benjamin Kunuk, Jocelyne Immaroitok, Karen Ivalu, Joseph Uttak, Joey Sarpinak, Jonah Qunaq

Cinematography Jonathan Frantz

No one who saw Zacharias Kunuk’s spectacular Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner (2001) is likely to have forgotten it. Working from his home base of Igloolik, a small island (pop. 2000) in the Northwest Passage, and casting his film with local actors, Kunuk immerses us again in the Inuit world. 

His new film is inspired, he says, by John Ford’s classic western The Searchers, though the similarities begin and end with the kidnap plot. The hero’s wife and daughter are carried off on dogsleds by four neighbouring kinsmen. While the women resist and seek to escape, the hero and his son give chase. 

The setting is 1913 when telescopes and firearms have entered the fray, but it might otherwise be 913. The terrifying harshness of the vast snowy landscapes and the cumbersome layers of fur swaddling the skirmishing tribesmen combine the epic with the absurd in images both elemental and timeless.