Maliglutit aka Searchers Canada
Director: Zacharias Kunuk, Natar Ungalaaq
Cast: Benjamin Kunuk, Karen Ivalu, Jonah Qunaq
Runtime: 94 minutes
Showtime: April 30th 12:05 PM
Language: Inuktitut with English Subtitles
Toronto International Film Festival Nomination: Platform Prize
“The combination of icy landscapes, practical details about dog teams, igloo building and raw meat, and a simple tale built around love of family, is compelling.”—Kate Taylor, Globe and Mail
A striking reinterpretation of John Ford’s classic 1956 western, Zacharias Kunuk’s Searchers (Maliglutit) has been relocated from the American West to the frozen North. And, of course, it’s told from a radically different perspective.
Set in 1913, Searchers follows an Inuk man named Kuanana (Benjamin Kunuk) who returns from a hunt to discover his village has been raided and his wife and daughter abducted. Assembling a small posse of fellow hunters, Kuanana sets out to rescue his family or avenge them, depending on what he finds.
The material is culturally relevant and the mirror-image storytelling ingenious. But this would be little more than a thought experiment if the filmmaking weren’t so immediate and compelling.
As in his breakthrough epic Atanarjuat aka Fast Runner, Kunuk – working once again with co-director Natar Ungalaaq and co-editor Norman Cohn – uses the tundra to powerful effect in expansive widescreen frames that dwarf his characters amidst their merciless environment.
An opening track from Tanya Tagaq sets an eerie tone of lurking malice. Dialogue is minimal, and faces are shrouded within fur hoods or hidden behind beards caked with ice. ¬Motivation is simple: survive or die.
Indeed, in its last third Searchers is almost a silent film, its images packed with almost mythic intensity. It’s taking place 100 years ago, but it could just as easily be 1,000.
Thank you to our sponsor Halfway Motors Nissan