The Giant Bear finds success prowling the international film festival circuit

Taqqut Productions’ newest release has garnered three awards and been screened at more than 20 festivals worldwide

Giant Bear walked away from the final night of the Canadian Screen Awards with the award for Best Animated Short. Last night’s win of one of Canada’s most prestigious screen awards also qualifies Giant Bear for Oscar consideration. Produced by Iqaluit-based Taqqut Productions and Montreal-based edfilms, the short animation, which is based on a book of the same name, tells the story of a lone hunter who stumbles across an unusually large aglu—or breathing hole—before realizing it’s being kept open by a nanurluk—a mythological giant polar bear—sleeping under the ice. (Photo courtesy of Taqqut Productions and edfilms)

By Dustin Patar

Since its completion earlier this year, Taqqut Productions’ short animated film The Giant Bear has garnered three awards and been screened in more than 20 festivals worldwide, including the prestigious Annecy International Animated Film Festival in France.

The animated film, based on a traditional Inuit tale, recounts the story of a lone hunter, voiced by Iqaluit’s Solomon Awa, who discovers an unusually large aglu (breathing hole) in the ice. It doesn’t take the hunter long to realize that the breathing hole is being kept open by a nanurluk (giant polar bear) sleeping under the ice. With the element of surprise on his side, the hunter decides to confront the giant.

According to Taqqut Productions’ website, the tale, which has elements similar to that of David and Goliath, “is more than a simple cautionary tale about the dangers of living on the land” and is “rich with traditional Inuit wisdom and direction.”

The Giant Bear isn’t the first time Taqqut Productions’ has ventured into the world of animation. Their first three films, Amaqqut Nunaat: The Country of Wolves (2011), The Orphan and the Polar Bear (2013), and The Amautalik (2014) were all well received, winning more than 20 awards and being screened in nearly just as many countries.

Like The Orphan and the Polar Bear and The Amautalik, The Giant Bear started off as a book published by Inhabit Media—a sister company to Taqqut Productions—with a screenplay penned by Neil Christopher, who also directed.

According to Nadia Mike, who began working at Inhabit in 2015 but is now a producer at Taqqut Productions, development on The Giant Bear began more than four years ago.

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“They’re very happy that it’s finalized,” said Mike.

The final product, a 12-minute 3D animated film, was co-produced by e→d films, a Montreal-based animation studio that was responsible for the animation side of things, including the hand-drawn look of the film.

Although The Giant Bear is still on the festival circuit, according to Mike, Taqqut Productions hopes to screen it in Iqaluit soon.

ᓇᓄᕐᓗᒃ (Giant Bear) Teaser from e→d films on Vimeo.

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