Alethea Arnaquq-Baril is an Inuit filmmaker from the Canadian arctic where she runs Unikkaat Studios.
It has been said that Inuit underwent the most intense and rapid cultural changes of any surviving culture. Colonized much later than First Nations, Inuit went “from the ice age to the space age” in one generation. Inuit survived staggering cultural changes wrought by the Canadian government and the Christian Church throughout the 1950’s and 1960’s, and much of Alethea’s work discusses how modern Inuit are coping with the aftermath of that transitional period, as well as present day globalization.
In her award-winning documentary Tunniit: Retracing the Lines of Inuit Tattoos, Alethea traveled the arctic to speak with elders about Inuit tattoo practices and the causes of their near disappearance, before getting her own traditional face tattoos. Alethea previously directed other award-winning films, such as “Inuit High Kick”, and the NFB animation “Lumaajuuq: The Blind Boy and the Loon” and Sloth, an animated short that pokes fun at stereotypes about Inuit. She also co-produced Barry Greenwald’s “Experimental Eskimos” (DGC Allan King Award 2010), and John Walker’s Arctic Defenders (VIFF, RIDM, Planet in Focus 2013, Best Feature – Atlantic Film Festival 2013). Most recently, Alethea directed Aviliaq: Entwined, her first short drama set in the 1950’s about two Inuit lesbians struggling to stay together in a new world run by outsiders. Aviliaq premiered at the imagineNATIVE festival in October 2014.
Currently, Alethea is directing and producing Angry Inuk, an NFB co-production and feature doc about how Inuit are coming up with new and provocative ways to mitigate the damage animal rights groups have done to the Inuit seal skin economy. Aside from making films, Alethea volunteers on the board of directors for the TV Nunavut Educational Broadcast Society, and the Nunavut Film Development Corporation.