The Fast Runner (2001) — Inuit
I'm not sure this film is a "masterpiece" (New York Times), but it's nonetheless fascinating for several reasons. Shot on location in the Baffin region north of the Arctic Circle, the technical challenges are hard to imagine. Fast Runner was written and produced by the Inuit, and features its own people who tell their own story, and so it's an ethnographer's dream. The winter and summer landscapes are both harsh and beautiful, the rituals and taboos fascinating. While its production, plot, and setting are intensely local, its themes are as universal as a Greek tragedy. How do a people respond to evil that is destroying not only its sense of community but its hope of survival? Love, jealousy, rape, revenge, deceit, and even patricide threaten the "camp" of a particular extended family. In the end, a matriarch "speaks from her heart" words that she did not want to say. She advises that until the evil in her own family is named, acknowledged, forgiven, and purged, there will be no peace for her people, for their fragile existence has been threatened by forces even more inhuman than the Arctic tundra. In Inuktitut with English subtitles.