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Premiere of Inuvik director's film well received

Jason Unrau
Northern News Services

Inuvik (July 22/05) - Director Dennis Allen's father Victor, the focal point of Allen's latest documentary My Father, My Teacher, was absent from Monday evening's premiere of the National Film Board co-production at the Great Northern Arts Festival.

"I told him we were showing the film and he said, 'oh, I can't go. I've got to cook muktuk," said Allen, earning much laughter from those who attended the screening.

It wasn't a surprising sentiment coming from the 77-year-old Inuvialuit elder who has always been careful about which aspects of the 'white man's' culture he would integrate into his life.

Apparently following someone else's time schedule was not one of them.

"Everybody is in such a hurry these days," Victor remarks in the documentary. "Gotta go and call somebody here or be there. A long time ago, when my family was travelling on the land, my father would point to mountains and say they're not moving but we are so we'll get there eventually."

And eventually Victor will see his son's work.

Those who did attend the premiere were treated to an interesting look at how Victor's son Dennis, after recovering from alcoholism, has tried to reintegrate back into his culture by reconnecting with his father and the land where he was raised.

Combining vintage stock footage from the region with recent material captured through three seasons of filming, My Father, My Teacher offers some rare glimpses into traditional Inuvialuit culture from the here and now and from years past.

On hand for the premiere was Rina Fraticelli, executive producer for English Programming in the Pacific and Yukon Centre.

"It's thrilling to be at a first screening because the film's not finished until the audience is there," she said. "And when you have a chance to do a first screening in the community (where the film came about), that's the best situation."

Judging from the extended applause following the screening, viewers were suitably impressed. One of those spectators was Allen's brother Gerry Kisoun, who also appeared in the film.

"It will be a treasure for our children," said Kisoun. "You know, our people are known for their oral stories and it's good that some record of them is being made."