Movie Tautuktavuk (What We See) to be presented in Montreal next week

Tautuktavuk (What We See) is a movie by co-directors Lucy Tulugarjuk and Carol Kunnuk. (Photo courtesy of Isuma Distribution International)

The movie Tautuktavuk (What We See) by Inuit directors Lucy Tulugarjuk and Carol Kunnuk will be presented in Montreal on Monday, Dec. 11 by Cinema Politica.

The film screened at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) in September. It won the Amplify Voices Award for Best BIPOC Canadian First Feature during the event. It is also part of  TIFF’s Best Canadian Films of 2023, a top 10 list that was released this week.

For Ezra Winton, director of programming at Cinema Politica, this movie “mixes elements of fiction and non-fiction in a very seamless way and it makes the film creatively super interesting.”

Tautuktavuk tells the story of two sisters who are separated during the COVID-19 pandemic. They come from the Nunavut community of Igloolik. Uyarak leaves the community after a traumatic experience and moves to Montreal. Her older sister, Saqpinak, stays in Igloolik. Because of COVID-19 restrictions Uyarak will not be able to come back  to her community for a period of time. 

The film was created before COVID hit. The team started filming and then had to adapt their planning and the story of the film to the new reality brought by COVID.

Therefore, Tautuktavuk blurs the line between the creator’s experience of the pandemic and how their characters get through it. 

Lucy Tulugarjuk, who plays Uyarak, is based in Montreal. She had to stay in the metropol while Carol Kunnuk, who plays Saqpinak, continued the filming process in Igloolik with a team from Nunavut. 

They both directed the film and starred in it. For Tulugarjuk, Tautuktavuk talks about sensitive topics. 

“I think it’s important to talk about sensitive topics if we want to move forward and heal,” she said during an interview with Eye on the Arctic

Ezra Winton describes Tautuktavuk as a film that touches both on violence and healing. 

“The content of the film is super important. It is itself very political. It is about the violence that has been brought by colonization onto Inuit communities and especially violence against women. It talks about historic violence, and the content is also about interpersonal domestic violence and the ways in which the women in the film face their trauma and undergo pathways of healing,” he told Eye on the Arctic

Lucy Tulugarjuk plays Uyarak in the movie. (Photo courtesy of Isuma Distribution International)

The story of two artists

Tulugarjuk said she is honored to be part of TIFF’S Canadian Top Ten of 2023. 

I did not expect that at all. Our goal was not to […] win prices. Our goal was to get the message out from a women’s point of view as an Inuk. So it’s such a surprise and I love it : the fact that they accepted our film and respected it and chose it to be one of the top 10. – Lucy Tulugarjuk, co-director of Tautuktavuk

And what is that message they are trying to tell ? 

“Inuit are not all drunks. We work hard to get to where we want to be. And we are smart and we exist today […] in a modern world, just trying to make ends meet, just like everybody else in Canada,” Tulugarjuk said.

Tautuktavuk is Tulugarjuk’s second film as a director. She also played in multiple movies during her career and is currently working on an animated series and a documentary film. Tulugarjuk is comes from Igloolik, Nunavut. She directs the Nunavut Independent Television Network which created Ugavut Tv, the first television network exclusively presenting shows in inuktitut. 

For Tautuktavuk, she worked with Carol Kunnuk who also directed the film and played in it. 

“It’s my story and Carol’s story combined together. I think it has a lot of strengths and a lot of bravery,” Tulugarjuk said. 

Carol Kunnuk is an artist based in Igloolik, Nunavut. She has been working in the film and television industry for more than 25 years. She participated in different projects as an actress, film director, script supervisor and production coordinator. She currently produces the TV show Welcome to my Qammaq, a weekly show broadcasted on Ugavut TV. 

Carol Kunnuk plays Saqpinak in the movie. (Photo courtesy of Isuma Distribution International)

Together, they collaborated with Isuma, an Inuit production and distribution company based in Igloolik. 

Last Cinema Politica screening of the year 

Tautuktavuk will be presented at Concordia University, in Montreal, on Monday Dec. 11 by Cinema Politica, a distribution and exhibition network, devoted to independent political films.

Program director Ezra Winton told Eye on the Arctic that him and his team thought that presenting this film was a strong way to end their 2023 programming. 

We wanted to end on a high note with a really important, really beautiful, really well-made film that is very an engaged film and will I think stay with people for a long time after they see it. – Ezra Winton director of programming at Cinema Politica

The content, the form and the context of the film convinced him and his team to program it. 

“The stories about Inuit have historically and for the most part been told by non-Inuit filmmakers. This actually still continues, there are still non-Inuit people telling those stories, but now there has been a shift in recent years of more and more Inuit making media and films that are actually getting seen in the South,” Winton said.

The movie will be screening in Montreal in January. (Photo courtesy of Isuma Distribution International)

All the information on the screening is available on Cinema Politica’s website. A discussion with Lucy Tulugarjuk and documentary filmmaker Alanis Obomsawin will follow the screening.

Tautuktavuk will also be screening in Montreal movie theaters as of January.

Related stories from around the North :

Canada : Calgary-based Inuvialuk artist Kablusiak named winner of $100,000 Sobey Art Award, The Canadian Press

Finland : Sami joik, symphonic music fusion from Finland makes int’l debut in Ottawa, Eye on the Arctic

Greenland: New exhibition features 2000 years of Inuit art from Canada, Alaska, Greenland & Siberia, Eye on the Arctic

Norway: Certification marks help both Sami artisans and consumers, says council, Eye on the Arctic

Sweden: 2022 Gollegiella Nordic Sami language prize awarded in Stockholm, Eye on the Arctic

United States: How Inuit culture helped unlock power of classical score for Inupiaq violinist, Eye on the Arctic

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