dir. Zacharias Kunuk, 2001.
USA, 174 min.
Inuktitut, with English subtitles


Spectacle Theater is excited to collaborate with critical platform Match Cuts on a new series of screenings.

Match Cuts Presents was established with the mission of programming underrepresented masterworks, with First Nations and Decolonial cinema, amongst others, at its heart. ATANARJUAT THE FAST RUNNER is not only the first feature film made by an Inuit filmmaker (entirely spoken in Inuktitut, and shot on location in Igloolik) but, it’s the first movie made by an indigenous filmmaker about an indigenous way of life that’s completely independent of non-indigenous people or references.

Evil in the form of an unknown shaman divides a small community of nomadic Inuit, upsetting its balance and spirit.

Twenty years pass. Two brothers emerge to challenge the evil order: Amaqjuaq, the Strong One, and Atanarjuat, the Fast Runner. Atanarjuat wins the hand of the lovely Atuat away from the boastful son of the camp leader, Oki, who vows to get even. Oki ambushes the brothers in their sleep, killing Amaqjuaq, as Atanarjuat miraculously escapes running naked over the spring sea ice.

But can he ever escape the cycle of vengeance left behind?

ATANARJUAT THE FAST RUNNER is based on an ancient Inuit legend, set in the Arctic at the dawn of the first millennium. For countless generations, Igloolik elders have kept the legend of Atanarjuat alive through oral history to teach young Inuit the dangers of setting personal desire above the needs of the group.

ATANARJUAT THE FAST RUNNER demystifies the exotic, otherworldly aboriginal stereotype by telling a powerful, universal story – a drama set in motion by conflicts and emotions that have surfaced in virtually every culture known to humankind.

“When missionaries came,” explains director Zacharias Kunuk, “they proclaimed shamanism was the devil’s work. But they didn’t look into what the shamans felt, or how they gave life to the dying, visited the dead, found trails over land and underground or took to flight through the air. When the missionaries forced their religion on us, storytelling and drum dancing were almost banned. Our film is one way of bringing back lost traditions. I have never witnessed shamanism. I have only heard about it. One way of making it visible is to film it.”

Match Cuts is a weekly podcast centered on video, film and the moving image. Match Cuts Presents is dedicated to presenting de-colonialized cinema, LGBTQI films, Marxist diatribes, video art, dance films, sex films, and activist documentaries with a rotating cast of presenters from all spectrums of the performing and plastic arts and surrounding humanities. Match Cuts is hosted by Nick Faust and Kachine Moore, and produced by Meg Murnane.