Netflix series starts filming in Iqaluit | Polarjournal
Using humor to tell the story of the experiences and difficulties faced by aboriginal women. This is the ambition of the creators and producers of a new series commissioned by Netflix, North of North, Alethea Arnaquq-Baril (left) and Stacey Aglok MacDonald (right). Photo : Netflix

A new series, which has just started filming in Nunavut, is due for release on the popular online streaming platform, Netflix. Created by two Inuit producers, the humorous series follows a young Inuk woman and her daughter.

A young Inuk mother wants to build a new future for herself. Not easy in a small Nunavut town where everyone knows everything about everyone.

Based on this synopsis, a new series filmed in Iqaluit, Nunavut, and created by two Inuit directors and producers, gets underway. Commissioned by Netflix, CBC and APTN, (Aboriginal Peoples Television Network), North of North production began on March 14 in Canadian Arctic territory. The series was created by two Inuit producers, Stacey Aglok MacDonald, who had produced Twice Colonized about activist Aaju Peter, and director Alethea Arnaquq-Baril, known among other things for her excellent documentary Angry Inuk released in 2016.

Plans for the series had already been announced in March last year. In a press release issued by Netflix on March 30, 2023, the creators had expressed their enthusiasm: “This series is full of stories that come straight from our hearts and our funny bones. We’ve drawn from our experiences as Inuit women living, laughing, crying and living together while Native. We are so excited to work with all our incredible partners at CBC, Netflix and APTN, and we can’t wait to start filming!”

Inuk actress Anna Lambe will play the role of Siaja, with seven-year-old Keira Cooper as her daughter, Bun. North of North will follow this mother-daughter duo over ten episodes, the first of which will be shot by Stacey Aglok MacDonald herself. Photos (left to right): IMDB / Netflix

Anna Lambe has previously worked with Stacey Aglok MacDonald in The Grizzlies, a dramatic film released in 2018. Based on a real story, it depicts a group of Inuit students who form a lacrosse team as a means of combating the suicide epidemic affecting their town, Kugluktuk. The role earned Lambe a nomination for Best Supporting Actress from the Canadian Screen Award, the equivalent of the Academy Awards.

The series will be co-produced by Northwood Entertainment and Red Marrow Media. The latter is an Indigenous production company based in Iqaluit. It was co-founded by Arnaquq-Baril and Aglok MacDonald with a mission to make people think while using humor: “We like surprising perspectives, twisted humour with heart, and breaking generational curses in order to be a little less fucked up. We love to entertain, but we also want to connect and involve audiences in larger conversations.”, explain the founders.

Federal funding and Bill C-11 to support local and national production

The start of shooting for the series coincides with the pledge of C$65 million (€44 million) in federal funding over five years to the Indigenous Screen Office, Canada’s independent national advocacy and funding organization for First Nations, Inuit and Métis creators.

The Indigenous Screen Office helped finance the construction of a new film studio in Iqaluit for North of North, as well as providing trainings to Nunavummiut for production roles. A way to ensure the future of Nunavut residents interested in a career in the 7th and 8th arts, while developing local audiovisual productions.

For the moment, the production has not yet provided an air date on Netflix’s Canadian platform, which will thus be able to add a new Canadian production to its online catalog. Since last April, Canada has introduced Bill C-11, which imposes the same regulations on streaming platforms such as Netflix, Amazon’s Prime Video and Disney+, as it does on national channels. As such, any broadcasting service must contribute to the creation and distribution of Canadian stories and music, and support the country’s artists.

In the event of non-compliance with the law, broadcasters may be subject to sanctions and fines. Over the past five years, Netflix has spent more than C$5 billion (nearly 3.5 billion euros) on Canadian Indigenous and non-Indigenous productions.

Mirjana Binggeli, PolarJournal

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