Pangnirtung sci-fi thriller Slash/Back premières across Canada next week
Director Nyla Innuksuk discusses inspirations, filming in Pangnirtung
Making the movie Slash/Back has been a long-term project for Nunavut filmmaker Nyla Innuksuk.
The concept of a sci-fi thriller set in Pangnirtung and starring heroic teenagers had been on her mind for a few years before a script was finalized in 2018.
Nearly three years after filming on location and what Innuksuk called an “excruciating” post-production process, Slash/Back, is set to make its debut in select theatres across Canada on June 24.
The movie tells the story of a group of teenage girls from Pangnirtung who band together to fight off an alien invasion in their community, using hunting skills and tools.
Innuksuk said she was inspired by movies such as E.T. and The Goonies, which placed ordinary children in the role of heroes. She also said she was inspired by some of the adventures she experienced growing up in Igloolik.
“I love that idea of a bunch of kids that have to band together to take on something,” she said. “I was always kind of … hoping that some sort of fantastical adventure would happen with me and my friends and so yeah, I love those kinds of adventures.”
The cast features a group of young women from Iqaluit and Pangnirtung, including Tasiana Shirley, Alexis Wolfe, Nalajoss Ellsworth and Chelsea Prusky.
Choosing Pangnirtung as the film’s setting was an easy decision for Innuksuk. While working on a National Film Board documentary on square dancing in the community – something that makes a brief appearance in Slash/Back – Innuksuk said she was wowed by the natural beauty of the surrounding land.
Innuksuk also has family in Pangnirtung, which adds another personal connection to the hamlet, she said.
“I had never seen anything like the fjords and the mountains in Pang, and it was absolutely stunning. I thought it was one of the most beautiful places I had ever been,” she said. “Teenage girls fighting aliens, this idea that they would be based in Pang just was something that was always kind of rooted there.”
While many audiences are set to see Slash/Back for the first time next week, the movie has spent much of this year on the film festival circuit. Notably, Innuksuk and the cast were able to show it to audiences at South by Southwest in Austin, Texas.
For Innuksuk, a personal highlight was screening her movie in Pangnirtung on May 10. There, they held a small red carpet event and celebrated its completion with the community that hosted them while filming.
“That was the screening that I was, more so than any of the festival screenings or anything like that, that was the one I was nervous about and most excited about,” she said. “That was the big test and the most important one.”
Innuksuk said she’s excited for the rest of Canada to see her movie, and hopes audiences will enjoy being introduced to the thriller’s unique setting.
But what’s next for Innuksuk?
She wants to make more scary stuff.
“If I could be making horror movies as my job, I mean, pinch me, that would be crazy,” she said. “Once one idea wraps up, my brain has space for another idea.”