This week Andrew Okpeaha MacLean’s short film Sikumi (‘On the Ice’) is debuting at the Sundance Film Festival. (Story here at Anchorage Daily News, which unfortunately requires registration most of the time. Thank God for BugMeNot!) According to the article, it’s the first feature film ever made in Iñupiaq, and I think it’s pretty exciting! He also shot a documentary in Iñupiaq in 2005, but I’ve never been able to track down a copy of it. Anyway, it’s a nice change for me to hear Iñupiaq dialogues in a non-classroom, non-fieldwork setting.
If you go to Sundance’s website, you can view Sikumi online. Apparently this will only be online for one day, though, so don’t wait if you’re interested. The subtitles are minute, and maybe white text wasn’t the best choice when your background is the Arctic in winter, but it’s readable. The setting will probably remind most of Atanarjuat (‘The Fast Runner’), but that was filmed in Inuktitut, further east on the Inuit dialect chain.
Incidentally, MacLean is the son of Edna Ahgeak MacLean, one of the most active Native linguists in Iñupiaq revitalization for the last few decades. She dedicated her North Slope Iñupiaq Grammar to her two sons, and I can imagine she’s very proud that one of them has just filmed an Iñupiaq-language movie.
More information about the film at its official site, although at the time being, you can’t view it there.