Inuit mythology is brought to theatrical life in filmed performance piece “Kiviuq.” An amusing, creative retelling of ancient stories revolving around the delightfully ambiguous figure of Kiviuq, pic uses enough cinematic devices, as well as illustrations and shots of the live audience, to distance itself from a mere filmed stage piece, creating an original, kinetic work. Funding from Canada’s Aboriginal Peoples’ TV Network guaranteed small-screen broadcast at home, but Stateside PBS could be interested, as well as fests with an anthropological bent.
Writer-director John Houston traveled throughout Inuit territory seeking elders who remembered their suppressed oral traditions, condensing the fables into workable chapters that give the full flavor of the fantastic stories. Pic is narrated by three elders, incorporating dance and song into tales that blur distinctions between the animal and human worlds. Kiviuq (Lamech Kadloo), “born when the world began,” is in the best tradition of early creation myths, bumbling at times and not always very bright; but through these stories the Inuit taught values and modes of behavior. Included is the original myth gruesomely used in recent pic “Far North.” Digital lensing looks fine on the bigscreen.