Press release ...
Isuma to Extend Indigenous Film Distribution in Canada and Worldwide INDIGENOUS FILM NETWORK LAUNCHES NOVEMBER 22
Isuma Distribution International (IDI) announces the launch this month of Indigenous Film Network (IFN), a $900,000 initiative to expand feature film distribution to 200 remote Inuit, Métis and First Nations communities across northern Canada.
Using portable high-definition projectors for screenings in community halls and school gymnasiums, IFN hopes to achieve 50,000 admissions by May 2007, with a gross theatrical box office value of $500,000.
In its second phase starting 2007-08, IFN will install projectors in selected communities and deliver films regularly by internet video downloads. IFN will harness emerging technology to establish a permanent indigenous film sector in some of the world's most under-served regions.
Telefilm Canada has committed $250,000 to the initiative as a recoupable marketing advance from its Alternative Distribution Fund. Other sponsors include Makivik Corporation, Alliance Atlantis Motion Picture Distribution, Kivalliq Inuit Association, Canada Council, imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival, First Air, Air Inuit, Wasaya Airways and Air Creebec.
Indigenous Film Network kicks off November 22 in Rankin Inlet, Nunavut, with a screening of Igloolik Isuma Productions' The Journals of Knud Rasmussen, followed in the next two weeks by screenings in Pikangikum, Deer Lake and North Spirit Lake, Ontario, and in Kuujuaq, Nunavik, in northern Quebec.
The Journals of Knud Rasmussen is the second Inuit-language feature film by Zacharias Kunuk and the same team that made Atanarjuat The Fast Runner, winner of the 2001 Camera d'or at Cannes and Best Picture Genie in 2002.
The Journals was Opening Night Film at the 2006 Toronto International Film Festival, the Atlantic, Calgary, Edmonton and Scottsdale (Arizona) film festivals, and invited to New York, London, Flanders, Copenhagen, Rotterdam and Vienna film festivals, among others. Released in Canada by Alliance Atlantis Motion Picture Distribution and Film Circuit, and in Denmark by SF Films, The Journals recently was named Best Feature Film at the 2006 imagineNATIVE Film Festival in Toronto, and Best Director at the 2006 American Indian Film Festival in San Francisco.
However, 80% of Inuit, Métis and First Nations Canadians, the principal target audience for The Journals, live in remote northern communities without 35mm theatres and have been unable to see the film.
Rankin Inlet, on the west coast of Hudson Bay, is Nunavut's second-largest community and the home of Kivalliq Inuit Association, the first Nunavut political agency to contribute to this project.
KIA's Social Development Coordinator, Bernadette Dean, will co-host the premiere screening in Rankin Inlet with The Journals' director, Zacharias Kunuk, and lead actor, Pakak Inuksuk,
Kuujuaq is capital of Nunavik, northern Quebec, and headquarters of Makivik Corporation, owner of First Air and Air Inuit, one of IFN's leading sponsors. First Air and Air Inuit also support Before Tomorrow, Igloolik Isuma Productions' first feature produced in Inuit Quebec, currently shooting in Povungnituk.
Pikangikum is an Ojibway community in northwestern Ontario whose unhealthy water, housing and sanitation conditions were exposed in a series of articles November 7-8 by The Globe and Mail. As one of Canada's 'forgotten' aboriginal communities, Pikangikum needs more than a movie to improve its quality of life. However, by screening a film expressing solidarity and understanding, IFN makes a statement of hope for people feeling otherwise abandoned.
Isuma Distribution International is the first distributor to address regional and racial inequalities in the film system's failure to serve remote northern and other indigenous audiences. Enlarging the Canadian box office also makes the film system more equitable for indigenous filmmakers competing for national production financing awarded by audience approval and box office success. Along with film screenings, Indigenous Film Network will deliver workshops for youth and emerging filmmakers in each community.
IDI President Norman Cohn commented: "Third World conditions in health, unemployment and living conditions in Aboriginal communities are the largest HUMAN RIGHTS problem facing progressive First World countries like Canada and Denmark. Full participation by indigenous people in film and media systems can provide clearer insights into these problems and lead to practical contemporary solutions to many of them."
Bernadette Dean, Social Development Coordinator for Kivalliq Inuit Association, added: "When the U.N. approved the Universal Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples this year, only two states voted against it: Canada and Russia. Now our new government has cancelled its $172 million commitment to the Aboriginal Culture and Language Initiative, promised as part of the residential schools legal settlement. Assimilation and destruction of Aboriginal culture and language remain policies of the Canadian government into the 21st century."
Adds Zacharias Kunuk, co-director of The Journals of Knud Rasmussen, "Our film is not about the past, it's about what's happening today. How did we get into this mess in the first place and how can we ever get out of it? All indigenous people have a right to see this film to help figure out what to do about it."