BONNIE AMMAAQ, NATIONAL FILM BOARD OF CANADA, 2015
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
Still from Bonnie Ammaaq’s 2015 film Nowhere Land COURTESY NATIONAL FILM