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There are a whole lot of firsts associated with this acclaimed three-hour Arctic Circle epic: First screenplay written in the Inuktitut language. First feature-length fiction film produced, directed, and performed by Canadian Inuit. Winner of the Camera d’Or for Best First Feature at the 2001 Cannes Film Festival. Based on an ancient Inuit legend and shot in digital video, director Zacharias Kunuk’s film is set in the Igloolik region of northern Canada. The tale stresses the value of community over indulging individual desires: A shaman intervenes in a contest to choose a new tribal chief, supernaturally helping Oki usurp the position from the brothers who are the rightful heirs—Amaqjuaq, the Strong One, and Atanarjuat, the Fast Runner. Then Atanarjuat falls in love with Atuat, the woman who’s engaged to Oki, and wins the head-punching contest Oki proposes. Later, Oki and some cronies attack the brothers, but the Fast Runner lives up to his rep, escaping naked across melting ice floes to safety, where he plots his return. The film combines raw anthropological details from one of the world’s least-known cultures with otherworldly views of the Arctic’s vast land—and seascapes that have been called “dizzying” and “overwhelming.” The Inuit have never developed a written language, but with the sponsorship of the National Film Board of Canada’s Aboriginal Filmmaking Program, Kunuk has made a leap into a new narrative idiom. The film shows at 6:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 15, at the National Geographic Society’s Grosvenor Auditorium, 1600 M St. NW. $25 (proceeds benefit the National Geographic’s Cultures Initiative, which attempts to preserve cultures at risk). (202) 857-7700. (Mark Jenkins)