RE­VIEW

Inuit Art Quarterly - - CONTENTS - by Jo­ce­lyn Pi­irainen

Ako­r­natsin­ni­it­tut – Tar­ratta Nu­naanni (Among Us – In the Land of

Our Shad­ows)

Marc Fuss­ing Ros­bach

by Jo­ce­lyn Pi­irainen

What hap­pens when you com­bine tra­di­tional Inuit sto­ries with mod­ern sto­ry­telling tech­niques? One an­swer can be found in emerg­ing Green­landic di­rec­tor and pro­ducer Marc Fuss­ing Ros­bach’s de­but fea­ture­length film Ako­r­natsin­ni­it­tut — Tar­ratta Nu­naanni (Among Us — In the Land of Our Shad­ows) (2017). It is an en­ter­tain­ing, fam­ily-friendly ad­ven­ture that deftly mixes Hol­ly­wood film ref­er­ences with Western Green­landic cul­ture and tra­di­tion. Hav­ing made its in­ter­na­tional pre­miere in Oc­to­ber 2018 at the imag­ineNATIVE Film + Me­dia Arts Fes­ti­val in Toronto, ON, Ros­bach’s film is also the first sci­ence fic­tion fea­ture to come from Green­land.

The film fol­lows the lives of two close friends Nukappi (Casper Bach Zeeb) and Mio (Ros­bach), liv­ing in Ilulis­sat, Green­land. Nukappi wakes one morn­ing, un­set­tled by a dream of a world of darkness and an omi­nous en­counter with a hooded fig­ure shrouded in mys­tery. The dreams con­tinue over some time un­til Nukappi is vis­ited by an old man (Jør­gen Kris­tensen) who tells him that he, like his grand­fa­ther be­fore, is an an­gakkoq (shaman)—one of few who are still alive to­day. Putting his trust and ac­cep­tance in ev­ery­thing the mys­te­ri­ous vis­i­tor tells him, Nukappi even­tu­ally learns to har­ness his bur­geon­ing pow­ers and is able to ma­nip­u­late the air pres­sure around him—even push­ing and pulling Mio around the frozen land­scape out­side the city.

Ros­bach keeps the largely muted and atmospheri­c tone of the film well-bal­anced, of­ten round­ing out more se­ri­ous scenes with light, comedic touches. These pop cul­ture ref­er­ences per­me­ate even the more dra­matic mo­ments of the film. In the open­ing scene, Mio and Nukappi discuss girls and re­la­tion­ships, and how they do not quite un­der­stand ei­ther. Mio ends the con­ver­sa­tion by giv­ing ad­vice to Nukappi say­ing, “There’s plenty of mat­tak (whale skin and blub­ber) in the sea,” play­ing on the cliché “there’s plenty of fish in the sea.” In an­other in­stance, Nukappi fi­nally con­fesses to Mio that he’s an an­gakkoq, with new-found abil­i­ties. In re­sponse, Mio jok­ingly waves his hand in the air as if he was car­ry­ing a wiz­ard’s wand and ex­claims, “EXPELLIARM­US!”, ref­er­enc­ing the spell cast by wizards in the highly pop­u­lar Harry Potter (1997–2007) series. “Can you be more se­ri­ous? This is not a movie,” Nukappi dryly re­sponds. It only takes a sin­gle beat be­fore Ros­bach—both as Mio and as the di­rec­tor—slowly and coyly turns his head to­wards the cam­era, break­ing the “fourth wall,” ac­knowl­edg­ing this is a movie.

The tenser cur­rents of the plot are in­ter­wo­ven with these scenes of brevity as view­ers are in­tro­duced to Tar­ratta Nu­naanni, a par­al­lel di­men­sion where the dark

an­gakkoq from Nukappi’s dream attempts to take over and de­stroy the hu­man world. The an­tag­o­nist goes as far as pos­sess­ing Mio to steal one of the por­tal ob­jects that al­low the an­gakkoq to travel be­tween worlds. From then on, it’s a bat­tle be­tween light and dark, be­tween good and evil, where Ros­bach’s strong film­mak­ing skills are most ev­i­dent.

The film pro­gresses at a steady pace, giv­ing am­ple time to en­gage with the quo­tid­ian as­pects of the char­ac­ter’s lives. Mo­ments of quiet thought­ful­ness re­veal the pair’s in­ward reflection­s and their attempts to solve their per­sonal is­sues. This grants view­ers the opportunit­y to con­nect to them through their own shared experience­s and also to laugh at their youth­ful­ness.

In the more dra­matic mo­ments— par­tic­u­larly the thrilling ac­tion scenes be­tween Nukappi and the dark an­gakkoq—

Ros­bach uti­lizes im­pres­sive vis­ual ef­fects to fur­ther achieve the be­liev­abil­ity of the pow­ers be­stowed on the char­ac­ters. Crisp blue, green and rich ma­genta lights rep­re­sent the an­gakkoq’s su­per­nat­u­ral abil­i­ties, set off from the dis­tinct noir tones of the film. Cir­cu­lar por­tals with con­cen­tric rings of il­lu­mi­nated script glow in the Arc­tic dusk al­low­ing the char­ac­ters to travel be­tween worlds while pro­vid­ing a com­pelling re­al­ism to the more fan­tas­tic el­e­ments of the story.

Ako­r­natsin­ni­it­tut — Tar­ratta Nu­naanni is an am­bi­tious de­but for the self-taught Ros­bach, who is cred­ited as the writer, ed­i­tor, di­rec­tor, mu­sic com­poser, co-pro­ducer, vis­ual ef­fects artist and co-starring ac­tor. Per­haps, just as with Nukappi and Mio, the di­rec­tor heard ac­counts of the an­gakkoq and has been able to pre­serve, re­lay and breathe new life into tra­di­tional myths through mod­ern film­mak­ing, telling their sto­ries once again. Yet, the film left me won­der­ing what will hap­pen to the pair and their new­found pow­ers. The di­rec­tor has stated that there is more to come with an­other film al­ready in the works. Here, Ros­bach has proved that the magic of film can be a vi­tal tool and, with per­se­ver­ance and hu­mour, is one in which others may also find in­spi­ra­tion to reimag­ine their own unique ways of cul­tural sto­ry­telling.

Ros­bach keeps the largely muted and atmospheri­c tone of the film well-bal­anced, of­ten round­ing out more se­ri­ous scenes with light, comedic touches.

Marc Fuss­ing Ros­bach (b. 1995 Ilulis­sat) — Ako­r­natsin­ni­it­tut – Tar­rata Nu­naanni (Among Us – In the Land of Our Shad­ows) (stills) 2017 Video 93 min COUR­TESY FUROS IM­AGE

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