Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner

Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner

Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner is Zacharias Kunuk’s first feature film, written and directed by an Inuit creator, which is also in the Inuktitut language. The plot is set in the northern-eastern Arctic, long before its people made contact with the Europeans, and inspired by a traditional Inuit tale. Shot in the island of Igloolik in the period of more than six months, Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner was one of the first films shot exclusively on HD video. Using primarily natural light, Kunuk and the cinematographer Norman Cohn conceive images, shades, and tones that introduce us to a new and unexplored world. The film was awarded with the Golden Camera for the Best First Feature Film at Cannes, and is also the most important title in the history of Canadian cinema, as suggested by voting carried out by the Toronto International Film Festival.

Screening Schedule

No physical screenings scheduled.

Direction: Zacharias Kunuk
Script: Paul Apak Angilirq
Cinematography: Norman Cohn
Editing: Zacharias Kunuk, Norman Cohn, Marie-Christine Sarda
Music: Chris Crilly
Actors: Natar Ungalaaq, Sylvia Ivalu, Peter-Henry Arnatsiaq, Lucy Tulugarjuk, Madeline Ivalu, Pauloosie Qulitalik, Eugene Ipkarnak, Pakak Innuksuk
Production: Igloolik Isuma Productions
Producers: Paul Apak Angilirq, Norman Cohn, Zacharias Kunuk
Co-production: National Film Board of Canada
Co-producers: Germaine Ying Gee Wong
Costumes: Micheline Ammaq, Atuat Akkitirq
Executive producer: Sally Bochner
Format: Digital File
Color: Color
Production Country: Canada
Production Year: 2001
Duration: 161΄
Contact: Distribution IsumaTV
Awards/Distinctions: Golden Camera – Cannes IFF 2001, Best Canadian Feature Film – Toronto IFF 2001

Zacharias Kunuk

Zacharias Kunuk is producer/director of Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner, his first dramatic feature film. He is also president and co-founder of Igloolik Isuma Productions Inc., Canada’s first Inuit-owned independent production company. Born in a sod house on the arctic tundra in 1957, Kunuk was nine years old when his family gave up their nomadic lifestyle and settled in the new Baffin Island government town of Igloolik. In 1981, already a famous carver, Kunuk sold three sculptures in Montreal and brought home the arctic’s first video camera to a community that did not yet have television. As a director in the Isuma production team Kunuk’s credits include the short dramas Qaggiq (Gathering Place, 1989), Nunaqpa (Going Inland, 1991) Saputi (Fish Traps, 1993), and Nunavut (Our Land, 1995), and documentaries Nipi (Voice, 1999) and Nanugiurutiga (My First Bear, 2001), shown in festivals and museums in sixteen countries with personal presentations at National Gallery of Canada, New York’s Museum of Modern Art, and artist-in-residencies at several Canadian universities.


1991 Going Inland
1999 Nipi (Voice) (doc)
2001 Atarnajuat: The Fast Runner
2002 Arviq: Bowhead! (doc)
2009 Exile (doc)
2011 Home (short)
2016 Searchers
2019 One Day in the Life of Noah Piugattuk