My name is Alethea Arnaquq-Baril, and my company is Unikkaat Studios Inc. I’m based in Iqaluit, the capital of the Nunavut Territory in the arctic of Canada, where I was born and raised.
Since graduating from Sheridan Institute in Ontario, I’ve focused on producing Inuit cultural documentaries and Inuktitut language productions. People often ask me how I got into filmmaking. Here is my answer:
Inuit didn’t have a writing system before European contact, and to this day, there is a serious lack of Inuktitut reading materials. We are an oral culture, and so that means our culture and history, up until recently, has mostly been undocumented, or documented by outsiders. This is changing slowly, but there is an enormous amount of knowledge and history that needs to be documented in a short period of time, while the last elders that lived traditionally out on the land are still alive. Filmmaking is such a natural and easy way for Inuit to do this important work.
Documentary filmmaking is also a powerful tool for communicating with the outside world. The arctic is a part of the world that is under attack in so many ways (western cultural domination, international disputes over arctic sovereignty for access to subsurface riches, and the effects of climate change on Inuit and our wildlife, etc). Probably the most powerful thing I could do for myself and my fellow Inuit is to be a documentary filmmaker, because I don’t know how else I can contribute to helping our voices be heard on the world stage, on issues that are critical to us.