Seal meat is a staple food for Inuit, and many of the pelts are sold to offset the extraordinary cost of hunting. Inuit are spread across extensive lands and waters, and their tiny population is faced with a disproportionate responsibility for protecting the environment. They are pushing for a sustainable way to take part in the global economy, but in opposition stands an army of well-funded activists and well-meaning celebrities.
Arnaquq-Baril and her cameras travel through the Canadian Arctic, giving voice to the people the animal activists rarely bother to meet: the hunters, the craftspeople, the families for whom the seal hunt is a critical part of their livelihood and survival. She follows a group of students to Europe, where they plead the Inuit case before a European Union panel.
The film interweaves the reality of Inuit life with the story of their challenge to both the anti-sealing industry and those nations that mine resources on Inuit lands while simultaneously destroying the main sustainable economy available to the people who live there. As one student said, “We need to stop the cultural prejudice that is imposed on us by not being allowed to benefit from our natural surroundings without having to drill into the ground. And that’s really all we want as a people.”
About direction (Alethea Arnaquq-Baril)
Alethea Arnaquq-Baril is an Inuit filmmaker from the Canadian Arctic, where her production company, Unikkaat Studios, is based. For her award winning APTN documentary Tunniit: Retracing the Lines of Inuit Tattoos, Alethea travelled across the Arctic to speak with elders about Inuit tattoo practices and the causes of their near-disappearance—before getting her own traditional face tattoos. She also directed the hypnotic short Inuit High Kick, the award-winning NFB animation Lumaajuuq: The Blind Boy and the Loon, and the animated short Sloth. The latter was one of 15 shorts selected by renowned film programmer Danny Lennon for Telefilm’s Perspective Canada screenings at the Cannes Film Market. She was an executive producer on Miranda de Pencier’s award-winning Throat Song and coproduced both Arctic Defenders, a feature documentary by John Walker, and, with White Pine Pictures, the feature documentary Experimental Eskimos. Most recently, Alethea directed Aviliaq: Entwined as part of the Embargo Project.
Awards & Festivals
- Alanis Obomsawin Best Documentary Award imagine NATIVE Film Festival 2016
- Audience Award - Hot Docs 2016
- Official SelectionSt. John's International Women's Film Festival 2016
- Womens Inmates' AwardRencontres Internationales du Documentaire de Montréal 2016
- Magnus Isacsson AwardRencontres Internationales du Documentaire de Montréal 2016
- Award Winner - Social Justice Award for Documentary Film Santa Barbara International Film Festival
- Special Presentation – NATIVE
- Berlinale - Berlin International Film Festival 2017
- Award Winner Canada’s Top Ten 2017
- Award Winner - Audience Choice Award for Best Canadian Documentary Available Light Film Festival 2017