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NYFF: “The Journals of Knud Rasmussen.”

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"We believe happy people should not worry about hidden things."
The immediate thrill of Zacharias Kunuk‘s two films, 2001’s "The Fast Runner" and this year’s "The Journals of Knud Rasmussen" (which he co-directed with Norman Cohn), is anthropological. For most of us, the world they depict is an exquisitely alien one of unbroken white vistas and pervasive, almost corporeal cold in which the idea eking out any existence, much less the culturally rich and happy one of "Journals," is hard to fathom. Kunuk knows this, and a good portion of the film is dedicated to taking in the otherwise unchronicled rhythms of traditional Inuit life.

"Journal" is in fact based on the work of an anthropologist — the half-Inuit, half-Danish Rasmussen, who in the 1920s traveled the Canadian Arctic gathering details for maps and documenting tribal customs and folklore of different tribes. He published some of the definitive research texts on Inuit culture, which at the time of film’s setting, 1922, was already being threatened by encroaching European culture and Christian missionaries. The film’s central pair, the great shaman Avva and his beautiful, willful daughter Apak, live at historical turning point for their people.

At the beginning of the film, Rasmussen meets up with Avva and his family. He has with him two other Danes (one played by "Pusher"‘s Kim Bodnia) who are hoping to negotiate travel to Iglulik, where Avva is from and where he left after the community converted to Christianity. And after that, Rasmussen disappears almost unheralded, which is one of the other exciting, and sometimes irritating aspects of Kunuk’s work. He’s a self-taught filmmaker, and his approach has an abandon and a disregard for typical narrative signposting and structure that can be rewarding and can other times just confusing.

"Journals" may not be as coherent or accessible as "The Fast Runner," but it is still a fascinating and deeply compassionate film. Pakak Innukshuk in particular as Avva is a figure of quiet tragedy, the lone holdout standing by traditions that are thousands of years old and suddenly unwanted. He delivers a wonderful monologue explaining how he became a shaman that shifts into a justification of the rules that have for so long governed how his people have lived, and he stands alone in the end, in what is one of the most mournful scenes in recent cinema.

The cast of "Journals" consists mainly of non-professional actors, and the film (shot on DV) sometimes has the feel of documentary, by necessity as much as intent — you can’t plan around a arctic blizzard. In another scene during a celebration, a character dressed up in a costume and dancing turns around and walks smack into the camera. Everyone laughs, but there’s never a feeling of breaking through the fourth wall. It’s more that the line between acting and living fades, and maybe it was never that important anyway.

Screens October 8 and 9 at Alice Tully Hall.

+ "The Journals of Knud Rasmussen" (NYFF)

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Give Back

Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

It’s the final countdown to Christmas and thanks to IFC’s movie marathon all Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, you can revel in classic ’80s films AND find inspiration for your last-minute gifts. Here are our recommendations, if you need a head start:

Musical Instrument

Great analog entertainment substitute when you refuse to give your kid the Nintendo Switch they’ve been drooling over.

Breakfast In Bed

Any significant other or child would appreciate these Uncle Buck-approved flapjacks. Just make sure you’re not stuck on clean up duty.

Cocktail Supplies

You’ll need them to get through the holidays.

Dance Lessons

So you can learn to shake-shake-shake (unless you know ghosts willing to lend a hand).

Comfy Clothes

With all the holiday meals, there may be some…embigenning.

Get even more great inspiration all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC, and remember…

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A-O Rewind

Celebrating Portlandia One Sketch at a Time

The final season of Portlandia approaches.

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GIFs via Giphy

Most people measure time in minutes, hours, days, years…At IFC, we measure it in sketches. And nothing takes us way (waaaaaay) back like Portlandia sketches. Yes, there’s a Portlandia milepost from every season that changed the way we think, behave, and pickle things. In honor of Portlandia’s 8th and final season, Subaru presents a few of our favorites.


Put A Bird On It

Portlandia enters the pop-culture lexicon and inspires us to put birds on literally everything.

Colin the Chicken

Who’s your chicken, really? Behold the emerging locavore trend captured perfectly to the nth degree.

Dream Of The ’90s

This treatise on Portland made it clear that “the dream” was alive and well.

No You Go

We Americans spend most of our lives in cars. Fortunately, there’s a Portlandia sketch for every automotive situation.

A-O River!

We learned all our outdoor survival skills from Kath and Dave.

One More Episode

The true birth of binge watching, pre-Netflix. And what you’ll do once Season 8 premieres.

Catch up on Portlandia’s best moments before the 8th season premieres January 18th on IFC.

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WTF Films

Artfully Off

Celebrity All-Star by Sisters Weekend is available now on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Sisters Weekend isn’t like other comedy groups. It’s filmmaking collaboration between besties Angelo Balassone, Michael Fails and Kat Tadesco, self-described lace-front addicts with great legs who write, direct, design and produce video sketches and cinematic shorts that are so surreally hilarious that they defy categorization. One such short film, Celebrity All-Star, is the newest addition to IFC’s Comedy Crib. Here’s what they had to say about it in a very personal email interview…


IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Celebrity All-Star is a short film about an overworked reality TV coordinator struggling to save her one night off after the cast of C-List celebrities she wrangles gets locked out of their hotel rooms.

IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Sisters Weekend: It’s this short we made for IFC where a talent coordinator named Karen babysits a bunch of weird c-list celebs who are stuck in a hotel bar. It’s everyone you hate from reality TV under one roof – and that roof leaks because it’s a 2-star hotel. There’s a magician, sexy cowboys, and a guy wearing a belt that sucks up his farts.


IFC: What was the genesis of Celebrity All-Star?

Celebrity All-Star was born from our love of embarrassing celebrities. We love a good c-lister in need of a paycheck! We were really interested in the canned politeness people give off when forced to mingle with strangers. The backstory we created is that the cast of this reality show called “Celebrity All-Star” is in the middle of a mandatory round of “get to know each other” drinks in the hotel bar when the room keys stop working. Shows like Celebrity Ghost Hunters and of course The Surreal Life were of inspo, but we thought it
was funny to keep it really vague what kind of show they’re on, and just focus on everyone’s diva antics after the cameras stop rolling.

IFC: Every celebrity in Celebrity All-Star seems familiar. What real-life pop personalities did you look to for inspiration?

Sisters Weekend: Anyone who is trying to plug their branded merch that no one asked for. We love low-rent celebrity. We did, however, directly reference Kylie Jenner’s turd-raison lip color for our fictional teen celebutante Gibby Kyle (played by Mary Houlihan).


IFC: Celebrity seems disgusting yet desirable. What’s your POV? Do you crave it, hate it, or both?

Sisters Weekend: A lot of people chase fame. If you’re practical, you’ll likely switch to chasing success and if you’re smart, you’ll hopefully switch to chasing happiness. But also, “We need money. We need hits. Hits bring money, money bring power, power bring fame, fame change the game,” Young Thug.


IFC: Who are your comedy idols?

Sisters Weekend: Mike grew up renting “Monty Python” tapes from the library and staying up late to watch 2000’s SNL, Kat was super into Andy Kaufman and “Kids In The Hall” in high school, and Angelo was heavily influenced by “Strangers With Candy” and Anna Faris in the Scary Movie franchise, so, our comedy heroes mesh from all over. But, also we idolize a lot of the people we work with in NY-  Lorelei Ramirez, Erin Markey, Mary Houlihan, who are all in the film, Amy Zimmer, Ana Fabrega, Patti Harrison, Sam Taggart. Geniuses! All of Em!

IFC: What’s your favorite moment from the film?

Sisters Weekend: I mean…seeing Mary Houlihan scream at an insane Pomeranian on an iPad is pretty great.

See Sisters Weekend right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib

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