Inuit film director Zacharias Kunuk, of Igloolik, Nunavut, received the Camera D’Or award at this year’s Cannes Film Festival. Kunuk won the award for his film Atanarjuat (The Fast Runner). Ataranarjuat is the retelling of an Inuit legend of two brothers who take on an evil shaman. The film was shot in Igloolik, the hometown of Kunuk. The entire cast consisted of people from Igloolik, most of whom had never acted before.

Kunuk also gets $60,000 in prize money as well as $165,00 in advertising for the film’s European release. The film was produced by Igloolik Isuma Productions, Canada’s first Inuit production company. The Prix de la Camera D’or, recognizing the achievements of first time directors, was first presented in 1978. The winner that year was Robert M. Young for Alambrista! Other notable winners of the award have been, John Turturro for Mac (1992), Mira Nair for Salaam Bombay (1988), and Jim Jarmusch for Stranger Than Paradise (1984).

Kunuk barely had time to sip victory champagne before embarking on his next project – a film about his experiences in Cannes.

Kunuk, unaccustomed to the media hype that surrounds the Cannes festival, was overwhelmed by being at the center of attention. Reporters clamoured for interviews and photographers had their cameras at the ready – all looking to get quotes and photos from the upstart director.

Nunuk must have been pleased by his success at Cannes, but he was also heard to comment that he couldn’t wait to return home to get some hunting and fishing in. It just goes to show you, you can take the man out of Igloolik, but you can’t take Igloolik out of the man.