Alethea Arnaquq-Baril Responds to ‘of the North’ Screening

Alethea Arnaquq-Baril

By Alethea Arnaquq-Baril

The controversy of the documentary of the North continues. (Read more about the film here, here, and here.) The film, which has received strong criticism for its depiction of the Inuit, will screen in another incarnation next week at Montreal’s CinĂ©-Club La Banque. The event organizers recently asked Inuk filmmaker Alethea Arnaquq-Baril, whom POV interviewed following the film’s RIDM screening, to participate in a discussion following the film. She declined. Here is her response to the organizers of the event:

The organizers of this event have asked me at the very last minute if I would assist them by taking part in a panel discussion after the screening. I will not lend credibility to this screening by taking part.

Make no mistake, this screening is not about having important dialogue about the state of life for Inuit people. It is about what rights a white man has to do and say whatever he wants about anyone he wants, no matter how much damage he will inflict.

Before you decide whether to attend this event or not, consider this: if a white man made a film full of YouTube clips of young black men being violent criminals without ever having been to a black neighbourhood or ever having had a real conversation with a black man, and then chose to screen the film to largely white audiences, would you go?

The only reason people choose to validate this film by programming it or attending the screenings is because they are so uninformed about Inuit life and Inuit issues that they don’t even see the racism in this situation.

This film is violence against individuals who are at some of the worst moments in their lives. It treats them as nameless, worthless people. But they are real people, just like you.

Please. It shows very vulnerable and naked women without their permission. It shows naked children against the wishes of their parents. It’s shows people who very obviously never want to be on camera. It shows proud, healthy, positive, creative, productive people being edited between clips of other people who are drunk, so it appears they are also drunk.

This film is a lie, and it is a dangerous one.

I hope that the screening is only attended by people who have already seen the film, and that they will only attend to shame the programmers and to take notes on which clips are still being used despite Gagnon’s promise to remove anything he has been asked to remove. I know that he has broken this promise once already.

If you know Gagnon or the programmers and disagree with them, please have courage and let them know how you feel.