NOWHERE LAND

BON­NIE AM­MAAQ, NA­TIONAL FILM BOARD OF CANADA, 2015

Canadian Art - - Reviews -

A mul­ti­tude of veils shim­mer be­fore our eyes, and fil­ter the world be­fore us: fab­rics shaped and shaded by our many ex­pe­ri­ences. While these fil­ters some­times foster the worst in us, we can also find strength in them. Di­rec­tor Bon­nie Am­maaq demon­strates this strength in Nowhere Land—a short doc­u­men­tary pro­duced by the Na­tional Film Board—by ground­ing her film in Inuit knowl­edge and life­ways.

Nowhere Land gives view­ers a chance to think about the Mary River min­ing project from the po­si­tion of the Inuit. For over a decade, Am­maaq lived with her fam­ily at an out­post camp on Baf­fin Is­land, be­fore mov­ing to Igloo­lik, where they

cur­rently re­side and where the film is shot. Am­maaq’s first­hand per­spec­tive adds lev­els of vul­ner­a­bil­ity and fierce­ness. This short doc­u­men­tary is a vis­ual journey from the in­side of a cabin—one that re­sem­bles Am­maaq’s old Baf­fin Is­land home—out onto the ex­pan­sive Arc­tic tun­dra and into the town of Igloo­lik it­self. The images are guided by an English­language voiceover that is de­liv­ered with a soft quiver, and at times with a ragged edge and a force­ful, un­ex­pected cuss. The nar­ra­tor takes the viewer through an emo­tional land­scape—from com­fort, onto anger and dev­as­ta­tion—so the doc­u­men­tary re­sem­bles a hu­man-to-hu­man in­ter­ac­tion.

Film can be a mis­sion of un­der­stand­ing. In Nowhere Land, Am­maaq trans­forms in­for­ma­tion into feel­ing, and feel­ing is an ex­tra­or­di­nary teacher. When Inuit film­mak­ers are close to the sto­ries, when they live and know them, it re­flects in their work. Am­maaq has found a storied space to speak from that makes the tim­bre of her voice res­onate deeply with the viewer. —IS­ABELLA-ROSE WEE­TALUK­TUK

BOARD OF CANADA PHOTO ALI­CIA SMITH

Still from Bon­nie Am­maaq’s 2015 film Nowhere Land COUR­TESY NA­TIONAL FILM

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