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July 12, 2002 - Image 86

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2002-07-12

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Arts Entertainment

At the Movies

DELI

ik Pia 14/C/0

`The Fast Runner'

0

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Jewish cinematographer shoots first film made
on location by the Inuit, the indigenous people
of the Canadian Arctic.

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— or the Wandering Jew.
That's the best way to
explain how cinematograph-
er Norman Cohn, of Washington
Heights, N.Y. L moved to the Canadian
Arctic and shot the first Inuit-language
feature film.
He was the only non-Inuit to work
on Zacharius Kunuk's The Fast Runner
(Atanarjuat), based on
an ancient epic about a
community torn apart
by jealousy. The haunt-
ing film, which won a
top prize at the 2001
Cannes Film Festival,
was deemed a "master-
piece" by the New York
Times. It opens Friday,
July 12, at the
Landmark Maple Art
Theatre.
Cohn, 55, doesn't
think it's weird that a
guy who grew up play-
ing stickball and idoliz- "The Fast Runner," based on an ancient Inuit legend,
ing his Orthodox
chronicles the story of two men (Natar Ungalaaq and
grandparents now lives
Peter-Henry Arnatsiaq) who fight over the same woman
in a shack on the tun-
(Sylvia Ivalu, pictured).
dra.
"If I'd been born in
Russia in the 1870s, I would've been
the first member of my family to go to dropped on his head when he was lit-
America," he says. "It's a partly spiritu- tle," he says.
By the time Cohn shot Runner in
al, partly psychological personality
1999, he was proficient in the lan-
trait."
'
guage as well as the culture. He
The Cornell grad's journey began
camped out in primitive dwellings on
after he helped a friend build a house
the sea-ice, shot inside smoky,igloos
in rural Canada and bought 50 acres
and ate seal for lunch.
there himself around 1973.
So what if the weather got down to
A decade later, he chanced to see a
minus 40. "The Inuit have lived in
video by Kunuk, who was born in a
this environment for millennia, so it
sod house and lived nomadically until
was like Woody Allen filming in New
age 9. "Most people's work didn't
York," he says.
look like mine, but his did," Cohn
recalls. "Inuit culture is non-didactic,
so it was the sensibility of using the
medium to look at things rather than
The Fast Runner, unrated,
talk about them.".
opens today at the Maple Art
Cohn — who's divorced with four
Theatre in Bloomfield
children — promptly finagled an invi-
Township. (248) 542-0180.
tation to teach a video workshop in

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Inuit territory. By 1990, he'd co-
founded a production company with
.Kunuk and friends.
"I had to relearn how to do every-
thing," he says of relocating to the vil-
lage of Igloolik. "For example, when
[Inuit] people visit you, they just walk
into your house without knocking."
While sharing a sled ride, Cohn
would leap on and immediately fall
off. On fishing expeditions, he'd catch
one fish while everyone else caught 25.
"I felt like the brother who got

g

,

I

,

,

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