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Smile through it
ArtCirq Expedition 2009, a documentary film about positive thinking

Nicole Garbutt
Northern News Services
Published Saturday, March 3, 2012

ArtCirq is a youth-based performance troupe featuring acrobats and circus tricks.

NNSL photo/graphic

Jimmy Ava Qamukaq, a member of ArtCirq, performs in Cambridge Bay during the 2008 Kitikmeot Trade show. Their film, ArtCirq Expedition 2009 and other videos made by the troupe can be viewed for free online at
- NNSL file photo

In 2009 the group, along with chaperones and a film crew, set out on a 14-day journey across 2,000 km from Iglulik, to Pond Inlet to Clyde River by Ski-Doo. It ended up taking more than 20 days. Weather delays and multiple sled break downs, among other obstacles, might have caused some people to throw up their hands and return home. The performers of ArtCirq persevered. ArtCirq Expedition 2009 documents their trip and the skills they showcased along the way. But the real story of the film is the amazing optimism the troupe members have throughout their journey.

The documentary offers interesting one-on-one camera interviews, almost exclusively in Inuktitut with English subtitles. The interviews give a realistic feel to the film. That, along with the melty snow bits on the camera lens, helped a viewer get a sense of what ArtCirq's trip was really like.

Although I could not feel the cold air through the screen, the roaring wind being picked up by the microphones lended to the atmosphere when the group was forced to camp for five days between Iglulik and Pond Inlet when three Ski-Doos broke down and they had to wait for parts.

The group passed the time playing silly games in which the loser would have to make a face into a pile of snow, and practising their human pyramids on the ice.

ArtCirq finally arrived in Pond Inlet at 1:30 a.m. On day eight of the journey. After a quick unload and rest, the performers got busy preparing and stretching for the community performance that evening.

During the troupe's practice in Pond Inlet, the camera pans to show ArtCirq artistic director Guillaume Saladin having a phone conversation with someone from Isuma Productions, the media production company that helped create ArtCirq. After a few failed attempts to connect due to shaky connections, Saladin gets through to check on the status of the costumes and let people back in Iglulik know they had arrived in Pond Inlet. The costumes, however, had ended up in Clyde River. ArtCirq had to perform in their regular clothing.

Before the performance started, Saladin told the audience, "You will see as much energy inside. What you are going to see from the outside is our normal clothes. I hope the magic can still pass on to you."

The performers of ArtCirq went out and gave the best show they could.

The documentary, might have focused more on the performers' craft and how they train and come up with the pieces for the show. However, it was a film about a great journey and a great group of people, completely worth the watch.

ArtCirq Expedition 2009 and other videos made by the troupe can be viewed for free online at

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