Past events

In Honour of Asen Balikci: The Netsilik Inuit films + intro by Hugh Brody
Wednesday 23 October 2019, 01:00pm
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Date: Weds 23 Oct
Time: 13:00
Venue: Khalili Lecture Theatre (KLT; lower ground floor)
            SOAS
            Torrington Square
            London WC1H 0XG

 

Asen Balikci’s Netsilik films are among the most remarkable ethnographic documentaries ever made. Balikci sadly passed away in 2018; join us as we screen two of the Netsilik films from this landmark series in his honour.


Between 1963 and 1965 the anthropologist Asen Balikci made a series of films about the Netsilik of the Pelly Bay region in the Canadian Arctic, in collaboration with Quentin Brown, and the assistance of an Oblate missionary, Guy Marie-Rousselière. The project began as part of a controversial American educational project (“Man: A Course of Study”), but taken over and completed by the National Film Board of Canada in 1967.

The 693 minutes of finished footage were edited into a one-year cycle, with each season revealed in two or three segments - a total of 22 beautifully crafted films. There is no narration, nor are there subtitles. The films offer an immersive experience in Inuit experience. They are remarkable, perhaps unique, for their pace and intimacy.

There is a degree of reconstruction, a returning to “tradition”. The films show Inuit life as it was being lived prior to the arrival of trading posts in the 1940s, and as the older people in the films would have experienced as children. Critiques of the series focus on the issue of reconstruction and related suggestions of unreality; the Inuit themselves see these films as a celebration of what they know and how they lived.

 
We will screen two films from the series:

 


Fishing at The Stone Weir: Part 1
30 min
This was shot in summer, when the tundra is swarming with mosquitoes and Inuit families head inland to fish. Skin tents are put up, and the men go into the river to set up stone enclosures to trap fish. The women maintain life at the tent and process the fish.

 


At the Autumn River Camp: Part 2
33 mins
The men build an igloo and the household goods are moved in. They then make a sledge from a sealskin tent, frozen fish and caribou antlers. The woman works at a parka, using more caribou skin, and the children play. Once the sledge is ready, the family heads downriver towards the coast.

 

The screening will be followed by discussion.

This screening is part of the SOAS Ethnographic Film Series, and is presented in partnership with the RAI.

This screening is open to the public, free of charge and no booking is necessary.