Largest recipient blasts Nunavut Film

Isuma’s Cohn says $235,000 promise meaningless until cheque clears

By NUNATSIAQ NEWS

JOHN THOMPSON

Nunavut Film has announced over $450,000 in funding, but their largest recipient says that promise isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on.

Isuma Productions’s latest production, Before Tomorrow, is slated to receive $235,000, more than half of the total funding. But according to the company’s co-founder Norman Cohn, the announcement is meaningless until he has a cheque in his hands and the money’s conditions clearly spelled out.

Last year Nunavut Film announced in a similar fashion that Isuma would receive $185,000, he said, but that’s money they never saw.

“We didn’t get any money. Zero,” he said.

That’s because the two parties fell out over what kind of strings would be attached to the money. Cohn said the terms would have made it “impossible” for the company to meet its legal obligations with others providing funding.

“Obviously, we would have taken $185,000 if we could,” he said.

All this means the makers of Atanarjuat still haven’t ruled out moving the production from Igloolik to Kuujjuaq, as they’ve threatened to do since the summer. Production of Before Tomorrow is to begin later this year.

Cohn says they’re frustrated with the slow response they’ve received from Nunavut Film. He says they applied for the funding eight months ago, and only now, near the end of their fiscal year, they’ve been given an uncertain response.

“We’re waiting, just like we were waiting before they made their press release. The press release has nothing to do with reality.”

Meanwhile, first-time filmmakers like Elisapee Karetak remain more upbeat about the funding announcement. Nunavut Film says she’ll receive $7,500 to begin work on a documentary on Nunavut Sivuniksavut, the eight-month college program based in Ottawa.

“Anything that instils Inuit pride is dear to my heart,” she said.

Karetak is no stranger to film, as the writer behind Kikkik E1-472, a docudrama that recounts her mother’s infamous murder trial during the 1950s, which was nominated for two Gemini awards.

But Karetak was never involved in the production side of Kikkik, and says she has a lot to learn about film making, from camera work to creating a budget. She never even learned how much the Kikkik film cost to make, she said.

First she needs to research and write her script. Then she’ll need to apply for more grants to start shooting.

During the fall she received a crash course on applying for film funding, provided by Ajjiit during a conference in Iqaluit. She credits those workshops for getting her started.

“You have to inspire the people with money,” she said.

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