Igloolik is a community of 1200 people located on a small island in the north Baffin region of the Canadian Arctic with archeological evidence of 4000 years of continuous habitation. Throughout these millennia, with no written language, untold numbers of nomadic Inuit renewed their culture and traditional knowledge for every generation entirely through storytelling. (From the Atanarjuat website)
Atanarjuat, The Fast Runner
This stirring legend of the Inuit had been passed down generation to generation for hundreds, perhaps thousands of years, but was in danger of disappearing as younger people forgot the traditions and became more used to watching television than to hearing their elders' songs. A team of filmmakers from Igloolik then used the new technology as an ally rather than a foe, to produce this version of Atanarjuat, reproducing the spiritual and material culture of their ancestors. This was not only a great communal experience for the Inuit; it's also a wonderful, unique opportunity for all of us to imagine what life was like for our ancestors, all our ancestors, toward the end of the last great Ice Age. I loved it also because it brought to life the scenes of shamanism (among Turkic and Mongolian communities of Siberia) that I had researched for my novel of the Ottomans, A Gift for the Sultan.