Angakusajaujuq: The Shaman’s Apprentice (2021) was announced as the winner of the IMDBPro Short Cut Award for Best Canadian Film at the 46th Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). This award automatically qualifies Angakusajaujuq to be considered for an Academy Award nomination.
The stop-motion animated film is a co-production between Taqqut Productions and Kingulliit Productions, directed by Zacharias Kunuk OC, ON. The film is an adaptation of a traditional Inuit story from the Qikiqtaaluk (North Baffin) region of Nunavut, in which Lucy Tulugarjuk plays a young shaman apprenticing to her grandmother (voiced by Madeline Ivalu) who must face her fear in a trip underground to visit Kannaaluk, The One Below, in an effort to save a young hunter who has fallen ill. TIFF described the film in its programming as “an astonishingly intricate and mesmerizing stop-motion marvel.” The 21-minute production also features the voice of Jacky Qrunngut as the young hunter and music by Beatrice Deer.
This announcement comes on the heels of Angakusajaujuq winning the prestigious FIPRESCI Award at the Annency International Animation Film Festival in France this July. Earlier in June, the book adaptation published by Inhabit Media, The Shaman’s Apprentice (illustrated by Megan Kyak-Monteith), won the Indigenous Voices Award for work in Indigenous Language.
Kunuk is a renowned filmmaker best known for Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner, the first feature film written, directed and acted entirely by Inuit in Inuktitut. It won the Caméra d’Or at its Cannes Film Festival debut in 2001, and went on to win 19 awards worldwide. Kunuk’s subsequent films include One Day in the Life of Noah Piugattuk (2019), which was included in the TIFF “Canadian Top Ten” list for 2019, among many others. Zacharias Kunuk was named an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2015 and an Officer of the Order of Nunavut in 2019.
Kingulliit Productions is part of the artist collective Isuma, the first independent Inuit-led film production company in Canada, which was co-founded by Kunuk and is based in Igloolik, NU. In 2019, Isuma represented Canada at the 59th Venice Biennale. Taqqut Productions is an Inuit-owned film production company located in Iqaluit, NU, whose projects include Anaana’s Tent featuring musician and performer Riit. With their production experience with live action, 2D and stop-motion animation and puppets, Taqqut’s 11 short films have won over 25 awards internationally.
Following its appearance at TIFF, Angakusajaujuq will go on to show at the Ottawa International Animation Festival from September 22 until October 3.