A little Nanook before Christmas…

Aside Posted on


It seemed only right that at some point, a pop-up cinema specialising in documentaries should screen “the first ever documentary film” : NANOOK OF THE NORTH.

Although made in 1922, the film feels far from stale. It still had our audience laughing and gasping at this incredible story. There was much discussion afterwards about how Flaherty would have managed to film under such difficult conditions. Researching further I was shocked to discover just how much equipment he did carry with him. In HOW I FILMED NANOOK OF THE NORTH (1922), Robert Flaherty writes:

“My equipment included 75,000 feet of film, a Haulberg electric light plant and projector and two Akeley cameras and a printing machine so that I could make prints of film as it was exposed and project the pictures on the screen so that thereby the Eskimo would be able to see and understand wherever mistakes were made.”

The first scene that Flaherty showed Nanook and the others was the dramatic Walrus hunt footage:

“Our boat, laden with walrus meat and ivory- it was a happy crew that took me back to the Post, where Nanook and his fellows were hailed with much acclaim. I lost no time in developing and printing the film. That walrus fight was the first film these Eskimo had ever seen and, in the language of the trade, it was a “knock-out.””

Its a fantastic scene – and interesting to discover that it was enjoyed by the Innuits themselves as much as by us.

The Pop Up Docs screening of NANOOK turned out to be a great film made better by a fantastic intimate venue that is 44AD. Thanks to all at 44AD for the space – and to FAB for their audio expertise!


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