Remove "Of the North" from Museum of the Moving Image film festival & Other Film Festivals

Stephen Puskas
Stephen Puskas 332 Comments
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We believe that films that misrepresent racial minorities should be seriously considered when they are publicly screened, and that the racial minorities that the films centres on should be included in the public discussions following these films. We also want the Museum of the Moving Image to remove "Of the North" from it's First Look 2016 film festival and any future film festivals.

The film has been critically panned and has been denounced as racist by the Inuit community.

The film's director, Dominic Gagnon, has admitted that he was drunk in the last public discussion about the film at Rencontres Internationales du Documentaire de Montreal, and did not invite any Inuit in the Montreal community to contribute to a public discussion that he claims his film is intended to start. He has also claimed in previous interviews that the only thing he knows about Inuit is from the 1922 film "Nanook of the North," which is controversial in itself as being a fake documentary, displaying staged events in the arctic and claiming them to be real.

The film festival also plans to have a public discussion with the director about the film but has not included any Inuit to participate in this discussion.

This film promotes ignorance and negative stereotypes about Inuit, claiming that all of the footage in the film is from Inuit (which is not true) and therefore is a film made by Inuit. Dominic Gagnon claims that this is a film of Inuit voices, but he has stolen their voices to spread his own message.

In the film, Gagnon:

  • Draws the comparison between an Inuk woman with the backside of a dog,
  • Links traditional Inuit food with an Inuk man puking in a toilet,
  • Mocks Inuit identity by displaying Inuit in a community event playing with sumo wrestling costumes while playing a contemporary Inuit song "Don't Call Me Eskimo" in the background,
  • Implies that the massive oil rigs and resource development depicted in the film is directly influencing Inuit culture and society in Canada when the videos of oil rigs and industry that he uses are videos from Alaska, the Baltic Sea and Russia,
  • Implies that Inuit themselves are actively working and living on these oil rigs that are in fact located in other parts of the world, and,
  • Deceives the audience in believing that he has made a film entirely from Inuit produced videos when in fact 34 of the 123 videos that he uses are not of Inuit, not made by Inuit, and/or not filmed in the north at all. Therefore, 28% of the film is not "of the north."

This film is a broken mirror that reflects a distorted and doctored image of Inuit, made by a man who has no stake in the Inuit community and is far removed from the people who he is representing.

The film is not only misrepresenting Inuit, it is reinforcing painful stereotypes of a marginalized people. It contains scenes that sexualize Inuit women at a time when we are in a crisis of missing and murdered indigenous women, which is dangerous and reckless.

The film maker also shifts between being an ethnographer, artist and documentary filmmaker whenever it suits him when defending the film. However, it is not clear if Gagnon has any formal education in anthropology and ethnography, and it's evident that he most likely does not as this film has not gone through any ethical review and he has not consulted with anyone from the Inuit community on how he represents them.

Gagnon also originally used copyrighted material from Inuit artists that he did not ask for permission for.

The film is not only misrepresenting Inuit; it is reinforcing painful stereotypes of a marginalized people. It contains scenes that sexualize Inuit women at a time when we are in a crisis of missing and murdered indigenous women, which is dangerous and reckless.

For these reasons, we want "Of the North" to be removed from the First Look festival, and any future film festivals, as it will do more damage spreading an ignorant message and a negative racial stereotype without providing any context or productive argument for discussion. This film and the way that it is being discussed and presented can only damage the Inuit community.

Further articles about the film:

Radio discussion about the film:

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