It's a story as old as humanity--one of love, jealousy, and betrayal, both within a family and between two families--but the setting, a starkly beautiful Arctic landscape, is not typical. The Fast Runner
tells a ponderous tale of two brothers, Atanarjuat and Amaqjuaq, and their spiteful rival, Oki, who conspires to kill them when Atanarjuat wins the affections of Oki's promised wife, Atuat. Nearly three hours long, the film plays out like an ancient legend told to younger generations in warning. It's infused with a mysticism in which spirits cause the wicked actions of otherwise decent people.
The actors, all Native people speaking Inuktitut (with subtitles), bring a necessary subtlety to their roles that makes The Fast Runner feel more like a documentary than a typical feature film. It's easy to get lost in the drama of this snowy world, where dog sleds are the only transportation and meat is eaten raw, cut straight from the bone. The film's slow pace mirrors the pace of life in such harsh conditions, but the energy of its epic story, spanning three generations and affecting the lives of everyone in the group, is deeply compelling. --Adem Tepedelen