Inuk- A Quest for Identity and Rebirth

On Thursday, March 16, 2017, “Inuk” played in Robertson Hall at Butler University. The film, part of the A New View Film Series, is a story both of Greenland’s struggle to balance tradition and modernity and of the universal quest for identity and rebirth after the deepest of wounds. The film is told through the lens of Inuk, an adolescent boy who lost his father to the ice at a very young age. Inuk and his mother now live in the city, but their lives are not any easier. They struggle to make enough money to eat and Inuk’s stepfather often gets drunk and beats him. The situation comes to a head when Inuk and his mother are called into a social worker’s office and the social worker tells Inuk’s mother that she will be taking Inuk away to a special home up North for children like him with hard lives at home.

 

At the home, we learn some about the backstories of the other adolescents. They all have one thing in common: they have suffered some kind of tragedy they are struggling to deal with. The woman who runs the home convinces some dogsled hunters to take the adolescents out on the ice with them to hunt seals, believing this will help the adolescents address their past and heal. However, Inuk seems to be hunting his ghosts more than seals. On the ice, Inuk is confronted with his past and begins the hard and long road to healing.

 

After the film, attendees skyped with the film’s director, Mike Magidson, and asked him questions about the film. The discussion began with an inquiry as to why Magidson wanted to tell this story about the people of Greenland and the children in the home. Magidson explained that he met a French anthropologist who had worked with the children’s home and had shared his experience with Magidson. Magidson was inspired to visit the area himself, and he decided the best way to tell the story of Greenland as a whole was to integrate the home to illustrate the struggles the people of Greenland face as they try to adapt to the changing world while still retaining their culture. While the story in the film itself is fabricated, it is the compilation of many stories and testimonies of the people of Greenland.
Community members inquired about how many Greenlanders still hunt on the ice and how global warming is affecting the community. Magidson explained that Greenland is constantly trying to adapt, and while there is not really a sense of loss and sadness as the old ways fade away, there are significantly less hunters that go out on the ice than in the past. Greenland has adapted to the culture of modernity and to global warming by expanding its economy to more fishing, but they are on the front lines of struggling with climate change. The ice has gotten worse over the years. As Magidson explained, it used to be that there would be several months of winter and solid ice, and now sometimes it is just weeks. The biggest problem arises when the ice is not solid enough for dog sled hunting, but is enough to make it very difficult for fishing boats. Just as in the movie, there is a struggle in Greenland to adapt to a new world that challenges and reshapes old traditions.

 

By: Elizabeth McGlone

Partners: Center for Interfaith Cooperation and Butler University’s Center for Faith and Vocation

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