Igloolik-based film to take big screen at TIFF

‘Tautuktavuk (What We See)’ is about 2 sisters who support each other through trauma and healing

A still from the film “Tautuktavuk (What We See).” The film is co-directed by Lucy Tulugarjuk, right, who plays Uyarak, and Carol Kunnuk, who plays Saqpinak. It premieres at the Toronto Film Festival this fall. (Photo courtesy of Isuma Distribution International)

By David Lochead

An Igloolik-based film will première on the big screen at the Toronto International Film Festival next month.

Tautuktavuk (What We See) was directed by Lucy Tulugarjuk and Carol Kunnuk.

It’s about two sisters, Uyarak and her elder sister Saqpinak. Uyarak is played by Tulugarjuk while Saqpinak is played by Kunnuk.

Uyarak leaves Igloolik to live in Montreal following a traumatic night of domestic violence. While she does not remember much from that night, her sister and closest confidant Saqpinak does.

COVID-19 lockdowns prevent Uyarak from travelling back to Igloolik, so she keeps in touch with Saqpinak through Zoom calls. In those calls, Uyarak speaks about years of trauma and abuse as well as how counselling is helping.

Throughout this, Saqpinak is also experiencing domestic abuse at home, but she waits until Uyarak returns to Igloolik to talk about it.

ITK Job Opportunties, Senior Policy Advisor, MMIWG

Uyarak’s return to the North is a journey of healing through visiting elders and family, both in town and on the land.

Tulugarjuk says her motivation for the film was to portray what present-day Igloolik looks like and what Inuit go through.

It shows how the effects of colonialism persist to this day: The forced transition to Inuit settlements, the residential school system, RCMP, the justice system and difficulties accessing government services in the North.

While the film shows injustices, Tulugarjuk said it’s also about the beauty of the Inuit family.

“[They still work] together to ensure that they are protected and hopefully try to help each other in coping with the injustice we have faced for the past 60 years,” Tulugarjuk said.

Being able to access counselling, and the fact that it’s OK to ask for help, is another theme in the movie, she said.

ITK Job Opportunties, Senior Policy Advisor, MMIWG

Tulugarjuk said she works in film because it is the best way to tell a story.

“I see the lens as a way to pass on the message to the audience,” she said.

While there are now Inuit films and television channels, Tulugarjuk wants to see continued growth of Inuit involved in film and television production.

She said her long-term goal is to have Inuit channels that provide more programming so the same shows don’t have to be repeated constantly.

“There’s so much to be told by Inuit, for Inuit,” Tulugarjuk said.

Tautuktavuk (What We See) was produced with Kingulliit Productions and Isuma Productions in collaboration with Uvagut TV and Isuma Distribution International.

The Toronto Film Festival runs Sept. 7 through Sept. 17. As the festival looms, The Canadian Press has reported there are concerns this year could be much more subdued than usual due to an ongoing Hollywood actors strike.

Tautuktavuk (What We See) is scheduled for release theatrically in the winter or spring of 2024, with community touring in the spring of 2024.


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(1) Comment:

  1. Posted by Qavvigarjuk on

    That is great! it is about time people know what many women have to go through and realities about the lack of service in Nunavut to help with trauma.

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