The National Parks Project: Sirmilik
East Coast premiere
Zacharias Kunuk, director of ATANARJUAT: THE FAST RUNNER, joins with musicians Dean Stone, Andrew Whiteman and Tanya Tagaq on short profiling his northern Nunavut homeland.
For five days each in 2011, 13 Canadian filmmakers visited a like number of Canadian wilderness regions—the country boasts the oldest national park service in the world—with a total of 39 musicians. The series of short films that sprung from their journeys comprise The National Parks Project, which Toronto’s HotDocs festival has rightly praised as “a one-of-a-kind documentary experience.” For the fourth film in the collection, acclaimed Canadian Inuk producer-director Zacharias Kunuk, whose 2001 feature ATANARJUAT: THE FAST RUNNER won the Camera d’Or for Best First Feature at the 2001 Cannes festival, explores the changes in both the icy terrain of this vast protected area in Qikiqtaaluk, Nunavut (the name “Sirmilik” means “the place of glaciers” in Inuktitut) and the hardy Inuit communities that dot it. Musical accompaniment was recorded literally on the ice itself by Ian McGettigan from June 5-11, 2011, featuring improvisations by drummer Dean Stone, his Apostle of Hustle partner Andrew Whiteman (a member of the now-on-hiatus indie band collective Broken Social Scene), and Cambridge Bay, Nunavut native and innovative throat singer Tanya Tagaq. This contemplative, haunting music is the perfect accompaniment to Kunuk’s images, creating an aura of subtle change and evolution against the magisterial backdrop of the great ice plains. Nominated for a Canadian Genie award in a series that has itself been featured at the Berlinale and is a finalist in the South by Southwest Interactive Awards, SIRMILIK embodies the project motto of “the power of nature, the magic of art.”