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Availability ended 7/11/2020 BST
(7 Nov worldwide) TUNNIIT: RETRACING THE LINES OF INUIT TATTOOS is the incredibly personal, poignant and political documentary from Inuk filmmaker Alethea Arnaquq-Baril. Inuit traditional face tattoos have been forbidden for a century, and almost forgotten. Arnaquq- Baril, together with long-time friend and activist Aaju Peter, is determined to uncover the mystery and meaning behind this beautiful ancient tradition. Together they embark on an adventure through Arctic communities, speaking with elders and recording the stories of a once popularized female art form. Past meets present in this intimate account of one woman’s journey towards self-empowerment and cultural understanding.

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Director Statement

Tunniit is an intensely personal film. It is about my journey to learn about traditional Inuit women’s face tattoos before getting tattooed myself. However, I think (I hope) it also speaks to a universal desire to feel part of a community.  A sense of identity is a necessary foundation for life that is often taken for granted by those who have never had their identity challenged or attacked.

This story takes place in the context of modern Inuit communities that are utterly confused by the staggering cultural changes wrought by the Canadian government, the Christian Church, and the reality of present day globalization. Today, evangelical Christianity is a shockingly strong force in arctic Inuit communities, causing tension around discussing anything that remotely touches on the old spiritual beliefs. The Inuit that attended residential schools, the generation that had their culture beaten out of them, and had their mouths washed out with soap when they spoke their native language – these people are hurting and confused. In some cases, the mere mention of traditional tattoos is enough to send a person into a spitting rage.

In this context, the dignity and bravery of the dozens of Inuit elders who were willing to go on camera to speak about the tradition of tattooing is awe-inspiring.

My personal struggle with these issues is laid out for the world to see in this film. I have felt touched and reassured to hear back from my fellow Inuit about what this film has meant to them. And though the process certainly upset and challenged my family at times, in the end we’ve come out stronger and closer for it.


Directed by Alethea Arnaquq-Baril

Production Company Unikkaat Studios Inc

Cast Aaju Peter

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