La nuit du Nalujuk
| 13 min 7s
English with French and Inuktitut subtitles
Selections and Awards
Winner - Best Short DocumentaryCanadian Screen Awards, Toronto, Canada (2022)
Winner: Best of FestivalYorkton Film Festival, SK, Canada (2022)
Winner: Documentary Arts/CultureYorkton Film Festival, SK, Canada (2022)
Winner: Kathleen Shannon AwardYorkton Film Festival, SK, Canada (2022)
Winner - Best Atlantic Short DocumentaryFIN Atlantic International Film Festival, Canada (2021)
Official SelectionAspen Shortsfest, U.S.A. (2022)
Official SelectionSouth by Southwest (SXSW), Texas, U.S.A. (2022)
Official SelectionPalm Springs International Film Festival, California, U.S.A. (2022)
Official SelectionAmerican Film Institute (AFI) FEST, Los Angeles, U.S.A. (2021)
Official SelectionVancouver International Film Festival, Canada (2021)
Nominee - Best Documentary ShortAmerican Indian Film Festival, San Francisco, U.S.A. (2021)
Official Selection - Shorts: She Stories DOC NYC, U.S.A. (2021)
Official Selection Asinabka Festival - Snowscreen, Canada (2022)
Official Selection Available Light Film Festival, Whitehorse, Canada (2022)
Official Selection Miami Film Festival, Florida, U.S.A. (2022)
Official Selection Nunavut International Film Festival, Canada (2022)
Official Selection Skoden Indigenous Film Festival, Canada (2022)
Nomination - Emerging FilmmakerYorkton Film Festival, SK, Canada (2022)
Official SelectionimagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival, Toronto, Canada, (2021)
Official Selection St. John’s International Women’s Film Festival, NL, Canada (2021)
Official Selection Festival du nouveau cinéma, Canada (2021)
More Selections and Awards
Nalujuk Night is an up close look at an exhilarating, and sometimes terrifying, Labrador Inuit tradition. Every January 6th from the dark of the Nunatsiavut night, the Nalujuit appear on the sea ice. They walk on two legs, yet their faces are animalistic, skeletal, and otherworldly. Snow crunches underfoot as they approach their destination: the Inuit community of Nain.
Despite the frights, Nalujuk Night is a beloved annual event, showing that sometimes it can be fun to be scared. Rarely witnessed outside of Nunatsiavut, this annual event is an exciting chance for Inuit, young and old, to prove their courage and come together as a community to celebrate culture and tradition.
Inuk filmmaker Jennie Williams brings audiences directly into the action in this bone-chilling black and white short documentary about a winter night like no other.
It’s January 6th and the temperature is falling below -40°C. From the dark of the Nunatsiavut night, the Nalujuit appear on the eastern sea ice. They walk on two legs, yet their faces are animalistic, skeletal, and otherworldly. Clad in tattered clothing and furs, in their hands they carry large sticks, harpoons, and chains. Snow crunches underfoot as they approach their destination: the Inuit community of Nain.
In the town’s centre the brave gather to greet these frightening figures. Year-round, children are warned that if they misbehave the Nalujuk will get them, but if they have been good, the Nalujuk might give them a treat. The townspeople sing an Inuktitut song to please the Nalujuit, and then line up to shake the fearsome hand of each Nalujuk, wishing them a Happy New Year. Now, the frigid night is heavy with anticipation, soon there will be running, chasing, screams, and laughter as the Nalujuit stalk the snowy streets of the community. Tomorrow there will be stories of courage, fear, terror, and for the lucky, escape.
Despite the frights, Nalujuk Night is a beloved Labrador Inuit tradition, showing that sometimes it can be fun to be scared. Rarely witnessed outside of Nunatsiavut, this annual event is an exciting chance for Inuit, young and old, to prove their bravery and come together as a community to celebrate culture and tradition.
Inuk filmmaker Jennie Williams brings audiences directly into the action and provides an up close look at this exhilarating tradition in her short documentary, Nalujuk Night. After 12 years of capturing the thrill of the Nalujuit in striking black and white photography, Williams brings her still images to life, to share the story of this special night like no other.
Run as fast as you can, the Nalujuit are here! Filmmaker Jennie Williams brings us the story of an exhilarating and sometimes terrifying Nunatsiavut tradition in Nalujuk Night.
About the Lab Doc Project
Every year on January 6 in Nain, Nunatsiavut, people gather to await the Nalujuit (plural for Nalujuk): startling figures that come from the Eastern sea ice, dressed in torn and tattered clothing, animal skins and furs. It’s a tradition that is truly unique, and mostly unheard of by anyone living outside of Labrador. Nalujuk means “heathen” or “non-believer.” In Nalujuk Night, I document the movements of the Nalujuit throughout Nain on this special evening and explore the night’s purpose in the community.
Parents talk about the Nalujuit all year long, using the frightening nature of the Nalujuk to encourage their children to behave themselves. They warn them that if they are disrespectful and don’t listen, the Nalujuk will “get them” on January 6. The children get scared and think twice about how they’re acting. The kids know that the Nalujuit run extremely fast while shaking their sticks, and it’s very hard to escape them when they chase you.
In contrast, on the very same night, the Nalujuit can also be friendly. They will shake hands with people and give out treats to kids who are good or who do a good job singing to them in Inuktitut. If the kids sing well and loudly, they are sometimes rewarded.
I photographed and researched Nalujuk Night in Nain for 12 years. I made this film to share a piece of Labrador and this unique tradition with people who would otherwise not have the chance to experience or know anything about it. The film shows how important it is to maintain Inuit traditions, and how Nalujuk Night provides a form of celebration for the community every year.
The Labrador Documentary Project (Lab Doc Project) supports Indigenous storytelling by working with first-time Labrador Inuit filmmakers to create and distribute Inuit stories from Inuit perspectives. The Lab Doc Project is led by Inuit through community collaboration, and focuses on topics selected by the filmmakers through a process of reflection and community engagement. This initiative aims to elevate Indigenous storytelling in Newfoundland and Labrador, create film opportunities for Inuit, and proactively diversify our industry. There are four films in this Project, with two launching in 2021, and the remaining films launching in 2023.
Written and Directed by
The community of Nain, Nunatsiavut
Directors of Photography
Duncan De Young
Original Music by
Community Logistics Co-ordinators
Sarah Semigak-Lidd and family
Katie Winters and family
Director of Photography (Trainee)
Inuktitut Language Advisor
Throat Singing and Drumming
Additional Music Recording
Courtesy of Six Shooter Records
Music Composed by
Franz Xaver Gruber
Nain Brass Band
Music Composed by
Nain Brass Band
Music Composed by
Sarah Semigak-Lidd and family
Senior Production Coordinator
Leslie Anne Poyntz
Associate Producer (In Development)
Stephen Agluvak Puskas
Production Assistant (In Development)
About the NFB
The NFB is Canada’s public producer and distributor of award-winning documentaries, auteur animation, interactive stories, and participatory experiences. Since 1968, the NFB has produced over 300 works by First Nations, Métis and Inuit filmmakers—an unparalleled collection that pushes past dominant narratives and provides Indigenous perspectives to Canadian and global audiences. The NFB is implementing an action plan with commitments that include devoting a minimum of 15 percent of overall production spending to Indigenous-led productions and making these works more accessible via Indigenous Cinema, a destination on NFB.ca.