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New CEO of Nunavut Film has landed his dream job

Laura Power
Northern News Services
Published Monday, October 29, 2007

IQALUIT - When George Ritter became the new chief executive officer of Nunavut Film, he never expected to be so moved by his new job.

Ritter, who came to Canada from Prague at the age of five, spent most of his life working in various aspects of film, but had never experienced the kind of storytelling he has discovered in his two months in Nunavut.

NNSL Photo/Graphic

George Ritter: New chief executive officer of Nunavut Film is excited by his job.

"I've never walked into a film office where every film that I pick up off the shelf is good," he said. "Everything I've seen is first class and it reminds me why I went into the business while I was a young man."

He said he and his wife have been watching films made in the territory almost every night.

"I get excited every single night and that makes me excited to come to work in the morning," he said, citing Atarnajuat: The Fast Runner as an example of great film. Ritter said such work produced in Nunavut can stand out anywhere in the world.

"He (Zacharias Kunuk) did everything right, and Isuma's doing everything right. They're setting an example," he said.

On a personal level, Ritter is moved by the way people in Nunavut tell stories about their people. He said during the Holocaust, 23 members of his family were killed in the same day, but in Prague, people weren't telling their stories through film as they are in the North of Canada.

"I'm proud that film is being used for that," he said.

One of the changes made recently for filmmakers in Nunavut is the method by which they can apply for funding. Ritter said there have been problems in the past because of the way the fiscal year and the filmmaking cycle never matched up, so filmmakers have been asked to apply in advance for the next two years.

"It's really putting a square shoe on a round foot and making it fit and that's what we've managed to do," he said. "We have the same amount of funding but it's just worked more smoothly this year - it actually worked this year."

When Ritter wrote of his goals in an e-mail to Nunavut News/North, he said he would like to see more filmmakers enter a growing industry that is reaching out on a global level, making more money for their families and companies.

He wrote "films after all are not only cultural legacies but fiscal ones, too. And quality films, new media and television programming should have long lives that could, quite realistically, outlast the producers."

He said he would like to help the territory's filmmakers make even more money from their work.

"I think that's the next step here in Nunavut, is that filmmakers are going to start taking greater control of marketing their movies," he said.

Ritter said he wasn't expecting to come into such a position now, as he was ready to go into retirement. But now that he has found a place he loves and a position he considers his dream job, he is ready to get back to work.

"That's about as exciting as my life can get, and I wish that on everyone and their careers," he said.