Thursday, October 20, 2016

imagineNative '16 Film Review - Angry Inuk

The Anti-Seal hunt activist groups lead by IFAW, Humane Society and Greenpeace have made a fund raising killing for decades with their stance to ban seal hunting. The groups know that when you show a cute baby seal with tears in its eyes or the image of a baby seal about to be clubbed over the head by a hunter that people will open up their wallets and give to their organizations. They also claim that stopping the seal hunt will not hurt the Inuit as they are exempt from the ban and can continue subsistence hunting. The facts are that seals are not on the endangered species list, the white seal hunt is banned, the population of seals is actually on the rise and not the decline and that the seal hunt and commercial sale of seal products is essential to maintaining the Inuit way of life for a society with the highest cost of living and the lowest level of employment and income.  

Director Althea Arnaquq- Baril brings a film crew to her hometown of Kimmirut in Nunavut. The narrative opens in the Spring the directors favourite time of year. It's the time of the seal hunt that reminds her of her earliest memories as a child. Her people use all parts of the seal. They use the skin for clothing, eat the meat chopping and dividing up the meat from a fresh catch is a community event. They use the oil and the waste product returns to the earth. The community also needs the means to be able to sell the pelts for money to sustain the community, buy supplies as part of the cycle of life.

The dominant event at the opening portion of the piece is the pending EU parliament vote to ban seal products in 2009. The film crew and some community leaders fly to Brussels to oppose the vote but are met with the massive efforts of the anti-seal lobby that were entrenched long before their arrival sealing the fate of the vote.  The Inuit were opposed as they remember the effects of the 1983 ban that lead to falling prices for pelts, unemployment in the community, followed by poverty an increase in depression and suicides.   After the vote the pattern from '83 repeated in 2010. The hunt went from 60,000 to 30,000 with the prices per pelt dropping from $100 to $10 not to mention the decreased sales of seal mitts, boots and coats.

The ironic part is the attack on the seal trade forces the Inuit to purchase southern food that is flown in at a great expense. A 12 pack of pop cost $83.00 while a jar of Cheeze Wiz is $18.00. The other consequence is a push towards seismic testing in the Baffin Island region threating all of the wildlife in the area and could force the Inuit to mine their minerals which will have an even greater environmental effect.

Angry Inuk is a very effective activist production. The narrative clearly and plainly delivers the facts on the Seal Hunt shows the value of the animal to the Inuit community and explains why a ban with an exemption will have a devastating effect on indigenous peoples. Director Arnaquq-Baril asks the tough questions in her film  to which  the leaders in the Anti-Seal lobby refuse to respond.  Today a new generation uses social media to their advantage in a battle of 32,000 Inuit vs a media and environmental activist machine with millions of dollars in the bank.

**** Out of 4  

Angry Inuk | Alethea Arnaquq-Baril | Canada| 2016 | 85 minutes.

Tags:  Baffin Island, Seal Hunt, IFAW,  Greenpeace, EU Parliament, Facebook, Twitter, Skype, Protest.  

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