Freeze Frame takes a penetrating, often humorous, look at how Eskimos have been portrayed in nearly a century of film, from the pioneering documentaries of missionaries and Arctic explorers to Eskimo Pie commercials of the 1990s. Some of these works are serious attempts to depict a culture; others are unabashed entertainment, featuring papier mache igloos and zebra-skin parkas. Even filmmakers who sought authenticity were likely to build igloos in villages that had never seen one, and to hire nonnative actors to portray the Eskimo principals. The representation of a culture in film is a complex interplay of portrayal and reaction. Ann Fienup-Riordan explores the issues of authenticity and power that are central to the current debate over film portrayals of indigenous peoples. She describes the work done by native broadcasters and filmmakers - beginning with Alaska Eskimo actor Ray Mala's pre-World War II screenplay about Eskimo life - as well as the participation by native actors in mainstream films. Alaska Eskimos today are engaged in presenting the complexity and uniqueness of the world in which they live. In the hands of Inupiaq and Yup'ik artists and technicians, film and video are becoming simultaneously a venue for participation in the larger world and a tool of empowerment. Freeze Frame includes a complete filmography of feature, documentary, and ethnographic films, and is generously illustrated with still photographs and lobby cards from Hollywood films featuring Eskimos, as well as more recent photographs showing filming in Alaska.
Fienup-Riordan offers a penetrating and often humorous look at a century of film's portrayal of Eskimos, exploring issues of authenticity and power and describing work done by native broadcasters and filmmakers and participation by native actors in mainstream films. Includes a filmography of feature, documentary, and ethnographic films and videos, plus b&w photos. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)