As icebergs float in the water, we hear the sound of the waves crashing. A voiceover begins as a woman, Alethea Arnaquq-Baril, wearing a heavy winter coat says she loves spring.
Arnaquq-Baril has been invited to go seal hunting with some family members. With no further narration or music, it feels as if we are on the ice with them ourselves, sans the cold air. Once they catch the seal, we are then taken through the process of catching and preparing the animal—which may be unpleasant for some viewers to see. Arnaquq-Baril knows this, and she begins to talk about the reputation seal hunting and seal hunters have.
Bringing the seal back, it’s a community ordeal cutting up and eating the seal as many are invited over to their house to join. Throughout the film, we meet other members of her community as they discuss the importance of seal hunting for them. We see seal in their food, their clothes, and their livelihoods. We also get a glimpse at other parts of Inuit life and culture that we may not have known otherwise, such as the high cost of living—$18 for cheese whiz.
Angry Inuk shows the aesthetically pleasing landscape of the Canadian land
We get to enjoy sunrises, sunsets, the snowy grounds, and the towns. The music is fairly limited. We are given moments of no narration where we can enjoy the sounds of the water, the winter air, and snow crunching underfoot. While Arnaquq-Baril and a couple of people speak in English, many members of the community speak in the traditional Inuit language: Inuktitut.
OVID.tv sheds light on the side of the sealskin market and the anti-seal hunting campaign that most people don’t see
Old clips and images of protests fill the screen as Arnaquq-Baril explains the history of the anti-seal campaign that began in the 1960s. While seals are not endangered, animal rights groups have a strong focus on seals as it brings in profit. One Inuit man says he has never seen any animal rights activist in the town as activists don’t actually want to learn about seal hunting
To explain the Inuit side of the fight, Arnaquq-Baril brings up arguments the anti-seal hunting campaign often pose. One of these is that seal hunting is inhumane and commercialized. Yet, we see the reality—a small group of older women working on the seal skin by hand and enjoying each other’s company as they work.
Angry Inuk is a small snapshot of an ongoing struggle
Black and white clips of the Inuit people show how they used to deal with arguments within their communities. As the video clips fill the screen, Arnaquq-Baril says, “Losing your temper was a sign of a guilty conscience. How does a culture with an understated anger fight against a group that’s infamous for the exact opposite behavior?”
Angry Inuk spans over multiple years: 2009, 2011, 2014, and 2015. Throughout the years, Arnaquq-Baril attempts to start a conversation with multiple animal rights groups, yet none of them return her emails. In one moment, she learns of an animal rights rally that will happen soon. She then gathers people from her community to go and have their own rally, in hopes that the activists will be willing to talk. Yet, we soon learn that the animal rights group canceled their protests when they heard the Inuit group was coming.
For Arnaquq-Baril, her mission to have a conversation with an animal rights activists takes until 2015. In their Skype call, the woman (who no longer works for the animal rights organization) apologizes to Arnaquq-Baril for her role in what the anti-seal campaign has done to the Inuit community. With this apology, we see Arnaquq-Baril begin to cry—happy tears as she says.
Angry Inuk is a great film for those who wish to understand the lost side of the seal hunting debate, while also getting snippets into the culture of the Inuit people. For those who aren’t interested in learning about the anti-seal hunting campaign or about Indigenous tribes, you may want to pass on this film.
Length: 85 Minutes
Directed by Alethea Araquq-Baril
To view the film, visit OVID.tv page for Angry Inuk
Images courtesy of OVID.tv
About the Author:
Lisa Ryou is from a suburb of Chicago. Having lived near Chicago her whole life, she is no stranger to the creative scene of the city. She is currently studying History, Museum Studies, and Art at the University of Michigan. She has been involved in fine arts her whole life and tries to use her works, both art and writing, as a way to give voice to BIPOC. When she is not at school, you can find her baking, reading, painting, or taking photos.