Natar Ungalaaq

Natar Ungalaaq
Photo Jamie Griffiths / Chickweed Arts


Natar Ungalaaq is a talented filmmaker, actor and sculptor from Igloolik, NU. Ungalaaq began his artistic practice carving when he was a child using his grandparent’s tools [1], eventually selling his works to buy camera gear along with Zacharias Kunuk to start an Igloolik based production company known as Isuma Productions.

Ungalaaq has acted and appeared in many films and television shows most notably starring as the lead Atanarjuat in Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner (2001), which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival. He made his directorial debut in 2016 with the film Searchers (2016). He is also a talented carver. Ungalaaq’s carvings are often made from stone and depict traditional Inuit imagery and practices. Ungalaaq has been known to also incorporate animal hair into some of his carvings, such as Sedna with Hairbrush (1985). Ungalaaq represents the goddess Sedna in white soapstone reclining on a rock with her fish like tail wrapping around the bottom of the stone. Sedna’s hair is made from fur and sticks out around her head, creating halo of red [2]. In her right hand she holds a bone hairbrush. Ungalaaq’s sculptures are boldly carved with minimal amounts of negative space and with figures always seemingly caught mid-action.

Ungalaaq has received many awards for his acting including ‘Best Actor’ from the American Indian Movie Awards in 2002, ‘Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role’ from the Genie Awards in 2009 and his film The Necessities of Life, or Inuujjutiksaq, was shortlisted for the 2009 Oscars under the Best Foreign Language Film category [3]. Ungalaaq has acted, produced, directed and run cameras in countless Isuma film work. Before playing the lead role in the genre-creating, Cannes Camera D’or award-winning Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner (2001), Natar played major roles in other Canadian and American films, including Kabloonak (1994), Glory & Honor (1998), Frostfire (1994), Trial at Fortitude Bay (1994), Sleep Murder (2004), The Journals of Knud Rasmussen (2006), The Necessities of Life (2008) and Maïna (2013) [4]. He has attended multiple film festivals as an actor and director including the Cannes Film Festival. Ungalaaq’s carvings have been exhibited across Canada and are housed in major institutions including the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, ON. He has been written about in multiple publications including many times in Inuit Art Quarterly and has his piece Sedna with Hairbrush on the cover of the Fall 1993 issue. Most recently, Isuma TV has been chosen as an artist collective to represent Canada at the Venice Biennale Art Festival in 2018.


Artist Work

About Natar Ungalaaq


Film, Performing Arts, Sculpture

Artistic Community:

Iglulik (Igloolik), NU

Edit History

January 21, 2019 Created by: Inuit Art Foundation
January 21, 2019 Updated by: Qaggiavuut