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// Films // Be Smile: The Stories of Two Urban Inuit

Be Smile: The Stories of Two Urban Inuit

Robert Lewis / Canada / 2006 / 80 ' / English


Thomas Paru Weetaltuk
Robert Lewis
Inuit participants: Isaac Augiak
Inuit participants: Thomas Paru Weetaltuk
Inuit throat singing and drumming: Jean Malaurie
Colour photographic inserts: Dian Naish
Colour photographic inserts:Ronald Lewis

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A doc that tells the stories of two Inuit men living an urban life in the aftermath of Canada's long history of attempts to unmake an ancient aboriginal culture.


It takes a certain kind of creative genius to look at an old situation with new eyes. Be Smile tells the remarkable story of two Inuit men who live on and off the streets of Montreal, who at times sleep on the filmmaker's floor, who paint murals on apartment walls, who wrestle with addiction and the residue of trauma in a (post)colonial and largely uncaring Canadian society, and who remain enough a part of a larger Inuit community in Montreal to attend regular feasts of traditional food. Even more remarkable, the Inuit men who are the subjects of the film were invited to participate in the editing of the film, making this a document not only about but by individuals who are often overlooked as we walk by their outstretched hands.

Drawing on the strong oral tradition of the Inuit people, the subjects of this documentary recount their stories of childhood hunting expeditions and a lost nomadic way of life, of sexual abuse and alcohol addiction, and of the Christian church’s effects on the Inuit worldview. Their stories also reveal a wisdom and outlook that have persisted despite their devastating trials. In the face of all miseries, they resolve to “be smile.”


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