The best approach to bring indigenous tales to life is to animate them. That way, all that colour and texture which we recognise from their art can flow along with the narrative. And when it concerns a region few have visited, Arctic Song is the perfect companion to warm those nights. It’s one of two works that’s playing at Spark! Animation Festival this weekend in Vancouver, BC.
Inuit artist, storyteller, and co-director Germaine Arnattaujuq (Arnaktauyok) recounts some wonderful creation myths, and there’s three in this short anthology work. There’s the raven who brings daylight to the world, the giants who turn into mountains, and the animals that create shimmering constellations and northern lights. Some of it reminds me about what I learned about the Australian aborigines and their Jukurrpa legends. Their lore also speaks of spirit animals helping to shape the mortal lands, but where they live is in a nether-realm that’s a hop and skip away.
The first Inuit tale presented feels familiar. The way raven and hare are presented reminds me of yin and yang. They are both black and white creatures, and in what this animated piece is in how well they complement each other. I’m intrigued about what that means, since the former isn’t a fixture in the Chinese zodiac. I’m fairly sure Arnattaujuq was going for a different kind of philosophy that isn’t fully Joseph Campbell. Not everyone agrees that all myths come from the same foundation.
She would reinforce a point which the official synopsis reveals: “Arctic Song not only shares Inuit knowledge in Inuktitut, but highlights the rich world of Inuit art that has always flourished in the Canadian Arctic and continues to delight international audiences.”
What’s unique about this part of the world is that it sees more darkness throughout the year than light. The Inuit world is worth further studying, and after watching this film, I’m ready to hit the books just so I can be even further enlightened.
Playing at Spark! Animation Festival
Sun, Oct 30, 2:30pm
Montalbano Family Theatre
8th Floor, 350 West Georgia Street