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“Arctic Song” by Inuit artist Germaine Arnattaujuq premiering at Yukon film fest

The Available Light Film Festival has been celebrating Indigenous creators for 20 years.

Germaine Arnattaujuq is the driving visionary behind “Arctic Song” (photo: Sarah Pruys).

The animated short film “Arctic Song” by prolific Yellowknife based Inuit artist Germaine Arnattaujuq will be making its northern premiere at the 20th Available light film festival in Whitehorse.


“I’m very happy,” says Arnattaujuq.


“Hopefully people will like it,” she adds.


“Arctic Song” tells Inuit creation stories through it’s colourful visuals and melodic music.


Stories like the raven who brings daylight to the world, the giants who turn into mountains, and how the land, sea and sky came to be.


Arnattaujuq  tells CHONfm, she loves telling tales of lore.


“I was always interested in legends. Actually, I don’t really care to do the real things. I stay away from that. For some reason, I just like to do myths and legends,” says Arnattaujuq.

Still from “Arctic Song” (provided by the National Film Board of Canada).

For “Arcitc Song”, Arnattaujuq teamed up with the National Film Board of Canada and Nunavut based and Inuit owned Taqqut Productions. She provided the master art work and oversaw the two-year filmmaking process as animators were drawing backgrounds and characters layer by layer and frame by frame.


At 70 years of age, Arnattaujuq is no stranger to the visual arts. She has been making prints for decades, often showcasing the femininity of Inuit women, but “Arctic Song” is not her first foray in film. In the early 1970s, she designed the sealskin puppets for a pair of short movies directed by Co Hoedeman. 1971’s “The Owl and the Lemming” tells the story of a hungry owl on the hunt, and 1973’s “Owl and the Raven” explains why raven feathers are black.

One thing Arnattaujuq loves about legends is that cultures all around the world share similar stories with different characters. For example, the tale of the owl and the raven is told by the Rukai people of Taiwan but with a bear and leopard.

20 years of Available Light 

Andrew Connors is the Artistic Director of the Yukon Film Society, the group that puts on the Available light film festival. He says it is exciting to debut Arnattaujuq’s film.


“She’s been making art since the 1950s and she’s an Elder states person of Canadian art and it’s cool that we get to present ‘Arctic Song’ as part of our festival. It’s an honour,” says Connors.


The festival has been celebrating Indigenous film makers since its inception in 2002, and this year, Indigenous story tellers represent almost 50 percent of programing. Connors remembers the inaugural festival featured Inuk film maker Zacharias Kunuk, who in 2001 directed “Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner”- the first ever feature film to be produced entirely in Inuktitut.

Andrew Connors sits in the Yukon Film Society office – gearing up for the 20th Available Light Film Festival.

“It’s hard to fathom that it’s the 20th anniversary of the festival. It’s come a long way and there have been a lot of people that have lifted it up over the years,” says Connors.


“It’s an honour really to just have a place in the community, in Whitehorse, and in the Yukon, and in the country, and in the world to help bring these stories to larger audiences,” Connors adds.


The Available Light Film Festival kicks off on February 11 and runs until February 28. For the second year in a row, much of the festival will be online because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, but there will be in person screenings every night at the theatre in downtown Whitehorse, though capacity will be limited.


As for what is next for Arnattaujuq, she is working on some new prints of a mother and her baby.


Published February 4, 2022. 

Written by: Dylan MacNeil

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