Skip to main content

Film Reviews Arctic Defenders: Nunavut doc is sensitive but only intermittently compelling

A scene from the documentary Arctic Defenders.

UNIKKAAT STUDIOS/JOHN WALKER PRODUCTIONS

2 out of 4 stars

Written by
John Walker
Directed by
John Walker
Classification
PG
Country
Canada
Language
English, Inuktitut
Year
2013

The personal and the political get intertwined in Arctic Defenders, a documentary that finds veteran Canadian filmmaker John Walker descending on the remote, icy expanse of Resolute Bay in Nunavut – a location he'd first visited as a young man in the 1960s. Back then, Walker was excited to measure the distance between himself and an exotic, foreign culture he'd only heard about second-hand.

Nearly 50 years later, his explicit goal is to inform viewers about the treacherous path to sovereignty and autonomy walked by the region's indigenous inhabitants. This he does by letting Inuit leaders tell their stories – many of which are unflattering to several successive Canadian federal administrations – in their own words.

The sheer accumulation of details in the anecdotes is revelatory, yet Arctic Defenders is only intermittently compelling.

Story continues below advertisement

Even as Walker takes a few well-aimed shots at the simplistic tactics of vintage NFB documentaries about "Eskimo" life, his film doesn't exactly break old moulds – it's sensitive, competently assembled and plodding.

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Discussion loading ...

Cannabis pro newsletter