A century after its initial release, Nanook of the North was celebrated in the community where it was filmed. From June 8-12 Inukjuak hosted activities marking the 100-year anniversary of the movie, one of the earliest documentaries ever made.
Filmed by American Robert Flaherty between 1920 and 1921, Nanook of the North was released on June 11, 1922. It followed the life of Nanook, the name Flaherty used in the silent film for Alakkariallak, as he lived his traditional life on the land. Many of the scenes were staged for the filmmaker, but the product serves as a historical snapshot of what life was like for Inuit 100 years ago, from clothing, to dog teams, to the environment. As people in Inukjuak gathered June 11, 2022, for the screening of the movie, the degree of change was dramatic, as the community has grown from a population of about 300 to 1,900, now with houses, snowmobiles, and a warming climate.
The Nanook of the North 100 Year Anniversary Planning Committee worked hard to organize the festivities which included not only the screening, but evening activities at the recreation centre. There was a music festival featuring many musicians, such as Elisapie Isaac and the band Nanook from Greenland, a craft fair, and a community feast.
According to the website, The Flaherty, in planning the celebration in Inukjuak, Avataq Cultural Institute requested copies of photographs taken by Robert Flaherty in Nunavik from the Vancouver Art Gallery. Scans of the original photographs were included in the Nanook Centennial Exhibition in Inukjuak, and the originals will be gifted to Avataq.
The Flaherty organization no longer collects royalties for Nanook of the North, which will be freely accessible to watch on its website in August. In lieu of screening fees, anyone screening the film is invited to make donations directly to Avataq.