Interview Review of Atanarjuat with
Jon Sasaki and Sasha Havlik

11 May 2002

A month ago, the Inuit production, Atanarjuat (The Fast Runner) opened at select big city theaters. Having read excellent reviews, but still having not seen it, Timothy Comeau asked Jon Sasaki and Sasha Havlik (who both work at Mercer Union) some questions.

Does it have subtitles?

Sasha Yes it has subtitles with great translation and you don’t feel like you’re missing the visuals and expressions to read.

Is it the greatest movie ever made?

SashaNo, but the best Canadian action film.
JonYou think? Doesn’t beat Goin’ Down the Road. If The Fast Runner had a bowling pin-jockey scene, we’d talk.

Is it the Inuit Citizen Kane?

SashaConsidering there’s never been a three hour epic film with an all Inuit cast – I guess your question has merit.
JonYeah ... it was like the whole film took place inside that little snowglobe. Lots of sled references too. Is that what you mean?

Is the cinematography supercalafraglisticexpialadoscious?

JonDogma and dogsleds are a good match. Lars Von Trier would be proud.

Does looking at all that white hurt your eyes?

SashaI was more concerned about the so-called three-hour running scene. But that was all hype. The landscape scenes through the seasons did get a lot of ooo’s and ahh’s from the audience.

The production company, Igloolik Isuma Productions, is going to be part of this summer’s Documenta XI. Does this make sense?

JonNo comment here.

One of the producers, Norman Cohn, began his film making career as a video artist. If this movie played in Mercer’s back gallery, instead of theaters across the world, would that enhance or diminish it?

JonThe film is, like, three hours long. If Mercer screened it, we’d have to offer snacks and stuff.
SashaI think the gallery would be a great location for an all-night movie screening. Would you be available to sit the gallery Timothy?

Is the story good or boring?

SashaEven though it’s based on a traditional fable, it’s filmed a contemporary way without special effects.

Do you feel myths are important in our cynical, technocratic age, or is that a question “pre-Sept 11”?

JonI dig films that “update” familiar stories. i.e ... Steppenwolf became Rob Schneider’s The Animal, Faust was remade with a devilish Mr. Miyagi in The Karate Kid, and Billy Madison was a thinly veiled Hamlet. Myths are comforting.

Would you be willing to watch another movie filmed completely in the Inuit language if it were a Hollywood blow-em-up? Is their a liberal minded PC thing going on it’s favor?

SashaThis film has enough family saga to be a daily soap but why ruin a good thing by making a Hollywood version?
JonWhat would they blow up, an ice floe?

Rating: 8/10

Instant Coffee Saturday Edition

  1. May 2002: Appeared in Instant Coffee Saturday Edition Issue No° 7
  2. 2002-2015 Archived on my websites & blog
  3. Sept 2015: this version produced