Master filmmaker Zacharias Kunuk (Maliglutit (Searchers), The Journals of Knud Rasmussen, Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner) returns with One Day in the Life of Noah Piugattuk, in which a single day in an Inuk man’s life represents an aspect of Canadian history that has affected generations.
One morning in the spring of 1961, Noah Piugattuk (Apayata Kotierk, Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner, The Journals of Knud Rasmussen) begins his day like any other in Kapuivik, on Baffin Island. Slowly preparing himself for a trip to get supplies, Piugattuk sips coffee, packs supplies, and readies his dogs for the journey. Along the way, when his party stops for a rest, a lookout spots an incoming team. Piugattuk wonders who they might be and what provisions they might need.
Once the other team arrives, Piugattuk is immediately introduced to “Boss” (Kim Bodnia; Rosewater, In a Better World), a government agent who has come to tell Piugattuk and his entire community that they must move to a settlement and put their children in school.
The ensuing conversation—and negotiation—between Piugattuk, the government agent and members of both teams serves as the centrepiece of the film, providing a snapshot of the relationship between Canada’s First Peoples and the country’s colonizers. When Boss insists that Piugattuk must relocate, or else he will not receive his allowance from the government, the elder responds with incredulity. What would he or his family ever need money for?
The fundamental disconnect between Boss and Piugattuk provides moments both poignant and humorous; the language barrier alone provides several wry asides from Piugattuk. However, the feeling of watching a moment suspended in time, knowing the weight his interaction will carry for Piugattuk—a real-life Innuk elder who lived 1900-96 and who saw firsthand the erosion of his people’s language and lifestyle—imbues the film with an incredible vitality and urgency.
“The real-time effect… is compelling as its languor and its repetitions gradually reveal the deep cultural misunderstanding that is going on.” (Kate Taylor, Globe and Mail)
“One Day in the Life of Noah Piugattuk returns its hero to his land and reasserts the values that Noah articulated so eloquently and patiently, but fell on deaf ears.” (Pat Mullen, POV Magazine)