The Journals of Knud Rasmussen

ISUMA, Norman Cohn and Zacharias Kunuk

2006, 112:00 minutes, colour, Inuktitut, w English subtitles, w/ French subtitles


The great shaman, Avva, and his family are living on the land some distance from Iglulik, his home community that lately has taken up the teachings of Christian missionaries.

Explorer/adventurer Knud Rasmussen pays Avva a visit, accompanied by two fellow Danes: trader Peter Freuchen and anthropologist Therkel Mathiassen.

Rasmussen hears and records Avva’s life story and that of his wife Orulu.

Their son, Natar, impulsively agrees to guide Freuchen and Mathiassen north to Iglulik.

After a celebration, Rasmussen leaves to head west while Avva, facing strong headwinds, sets out with his family and guests en route for home.

His beautiful daughter, Apak, has troubling dreams about the road ahead.

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Critical Writing

Isuma: Inuit Video Art
by Bruno Cornellier. Canadian Journal of Film Studies, Spring 2010, v. 19, no. 1.
New Documentary Recounts Bizarre Climate Changes Seen by Inuit Elders
by Guy Dixon. The Globe and Mail, Oct 19, 2010.
Triste Artique: Amy Taubin on the Films of Zacharias Kunuk
by Amy Taubin. Artforum, Apr. 1, 2007, v. 38, no. 8.
Inuit Documentaries and Short Films Now Available
by unknown. Native Journal, Sept. 2007.
Tragedy at the top of the world: From a traditional Inuit town, a...
by Gayle MacDonald. The Globe and Mail, Mar. 18, 2006.
Kunuk's silent partner: Norman Cohn grew up in New York. Zacharias...
by Sarah Milroy. The Globe and Mail, Sept. 6, 2006.