Review: Angry Inuk
By John Corrado
★★★½ (out of 4)
Beginning and ending with scenes of Inuit people hunting seals, Angry Inuk packs a compelling argument between these bookending sequences that gracefully challenges those who protest the seal hunt. The winner of the Audience Award at Hot Docs, this is documentary filmmaking at its most important and provocative.
Directed by Alethea Arnaquq-Baril, who was inspired to make the film to tackle cultural appropriation and defend her own traditions growing up with the seal hunt, this gripping documentary explores how the European Union ban on all commercial seal products has negatively impacted their way of life and practically destroyed their economy.
They rely on seal meat to survive and use the fur to keep warm, with proceeds from selling the skins often providing the only sustainable source of income for their poor communities. But they are being attacked by huge animal rights organizations that bring in millions of dollars through images of white seal pups, despite the fact that harp seals haven’t been hunted for several decades, and pay little attention to Native culture or traditions in their criticisms of the hunt.
The film compellingly argues how the anti-sealing movement is actually having a negative impact on the environment, forcing many communities to see mining or oil drilling as the only alternatives to boost their failing economies, and leaving them to rely on junk food that has been shipped in. Because their diets subsist of meat anyways, the case is made that not hunting seals is actually worse for other types of animal rights, forcing them to rely on meat from factory farms that has been slaughtered even more inhumanely. This point is reiterated through clever protest signs that say “save the baby veal.”
The fact that many of the Inuit hunters speak calmly and eloquently to the camera, while the animal rights groups refuse to be interviewed and turn down every opportunity for debate, speaks volumes about the different sides. No matter where you fall on this issue, Angry Inuk is an impassioned and compelling film, that leaves us with a lot of important stuff to talk about.
Angry Inuk is now playing in limited release at the Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema in Toronto. Tickets and showtimes can be found right here.