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Atanarjuat the Fast Runner Details


Atanarjuat the Fast Runner is the first feature film in the Inuktitut language, spoken by the Inuit tribes of northern Canada. The film, based on an ancient Inuit legend, is set at the dawn of the millennium. It's an epic tale of love, betrayal, and revenge, set in motion by an evil force brought to the village of Igloolik by a mysterious shaman. Conceived by the late Paul Apak Angilirq, who co-wrote the screenplay, the film was shot on widescreen digital video by Norman Cohn (one of the few non-Inuit crew members on the shoot) and directed by Zacharias Kunuk. Kunuk and his crew meticulously re-created the conditions the Inuit tribes lived under before exposure to Southern influences, using information handed down from tribe elders and the journals of Captain William Edward Parry, a British explorer who visited the area in 1822. The film tells the story of Atanarjuat (Natar Ungalaq), an unassuming young man who falls in love with Atuat (Sylvia Ivalu), whose hand has already been promised to the scheming Oki (Peter-Henry Arnatsiaq), the son of the tribal chief. Atanarjuat doesn't think he's strong enough to fight Oki, and relies on his older brother, the powerful Amaqjuaq (Pakkak Innukshuk), to look out for him. But eventually, the jealous Oki challenges Atanarjuat to a brutal contest for Atuat's hand. Atanarjuat wins, and weds his love, but his problems are far from over. While Atuat is pregnant, Oki's sister, the flirtatious Puja (Lucy Tulugarjuk), seduces Atanarjuat and becomes his second wife. She disrupts Atanarjuat's family from within while Oki plans his revenge. Atanarjuat the Fast Runner won the Camera D'Or at Cannes in 2001, and was selected for the 2002 New Directors/New Films Festival at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. ~ Josh Ralske, Rovi

  • Release date:June 7, 2002


Awarded by
Genie Awards Marie-Christine Sarda Best Editing 2001 Winner
Genie Awards Norman Cohn Best Editing 2001 Winner
Genie Awards Atuat Akkitirq Best Costume Design 2001 Nominee
Genie Awards Serge Boivin Best Sound 2001 Nominee
Genie Awards Zacharias Kunuk Best First Feature 2001 Winner
Genie Awards Zacharias Kunuk Best Director 2001 Winner
Genie Awards Zacharias Kunuk Best Editing 2001 Winner
Cannes Film Festival Zacharias Kunuk Camera d'Or 2001 Winner
Toronto Film Critics Association Zacharias Kunuk Best First Feature 2002 Winner
Genie Awards Paul Apak Angilirq Best Screenplay 2001 Winner
Genie Awards Chris Crilly Best Original Score 2001 Winner


Sylvia Ivalu
as Atuat
Peter Arnatsiaq
as Oki


Zacharias Kunuk
Zacharias Kunuk
Paul Apak Angilirq
Chris Crilly
Composer (Music Score)
Marie-Christine Sarda
Zacharias Kunuk
Norman Cohn
Germaine Wong
Sally Bochner
Executive Producer
Atuat Akkitirq
Costume Designer
Serge Boivin
Sound/Sound Designer