Indigenous people are frequently asked for solutions based on traditional knowledge. From environmental stewardship to psychedelics and mental health, the thirst for “ancient” answers to contemporary problems can run a wide gamut. But in legendary Inuit filmmaker Zacharias Kunuk’s latest animated short, Angakuksajaujuq: The Shaman’s Apprentice, that notion of easy answers is turned on its head.
The film, which was recently shortlisted for the Academy Award for Best Animated Short, follows a shaman and her titular apprentice after they are summoned to heal a sick community member. After traveling across the icy landscape, the pair arrive to administer aid to the patient, a young hunter sick with fever. During their first attempt to heal the man, the shaman asks him, “Did you do anything to deserve this?” The unspoken question here is: Is this man living a proper Inuit life or has he strayed too far away? In this sense, the shaman and her apprentice act not only as healers but as keepers of tradition. This will become clearer later in the film as the pair embark on a trip to the Underground to visit The One Below f... Read more