Nunavik's triliingual video production firm moves ahead

Taqramiut Productions Inc is forging international links and is bringing making Inuktitut productions available in Quebec, Canada and France.

JANE GEORGE
Nunatsiaq News

MONTREAL — Nunavik's video production company, Taqramiut Productions Inc., is behind a new television show that's sure to be a major hit in the Arctic.

As of February, the animated cartoon series 'Nanook' will air every Saturday morning on the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network in Inuktitut.

"It's going to be awesome. Imagine, on Saturday mornings, the kids will be watching cartoons in their own language," said Evie Mark, who works with TPI both on air and behind the scenes. "And it's going to be the first animated series in Nunavik dialects."

Nanook is a 26-episode animated drama set in the High Arctic during the 1930s. It tells the adventures of Nanook, a young boy who goes on a journey to find his missing father. On the way, Nanook has to work hard to gain the respect of other hunters and his grandfather, and he ends up finding the man within himself.

First produced in French and English, Nanook has already been shown on the Teletoon network in Canada.

The Makivik Corporation is contributing financially to the production of Nanook's Inuktitut version, while Nunavik's cultural institute, Avataq, is translating Nanook's dialogue into Inuktitut. Inuit students at Montreal-area colleges are providing the voice-overs for the more than 30 characters.

"They have a lot of fun — and they earn some pocket money," said TPI's executive producer, Bernard Beaupré.

Some of the actors, such as Elisapie Isaac, a former radio broadcaster now studying communications at John Abbott College, already have experience in front of a microphone.

But others are learning the knack of voicing as they go along.

Mark, who also plays the role of Nanook in the series, has been directing the students' efforts, getting them to imagine scenes from their own lives so that they can capture the mood of Nanook's action.

The result? A preview of Nanook shows a fast-moving and engaging action cartoon, the likes of which have never yet been seen on television in Inuktitut.

But Nanook isn't the only recent project of TPI.

TPI produced a video on well-known Kuujjuaq resident Daisy Watt that was recently aired on APTN. Watt's story shows the link between life in Old Chimo and today's community.

And TPI just wrapped up another production, a tale of romantic love in Salluit.

"Romance in Nunavik" recounts the real-life story of Joanna Matthews from England and Mark Alaku, a hunter from Salluit, who met, fell in love, and are now raising their two children in Salluit.

TPI also has produced videos for Health Canada and the Nunavik Regional Board of Health and Social Services, the Kativik Regional Police, the Kativik Regional Government and Makivik Corporation.

It recently put together 52 hours of broadcasts on Nunavik for APTN, as well.

Part of TPI's success lies in its capacity to produce Inuktitut, English and French versions of its work.

TPI's series "Tundra and Taiga" was produced in English and Inuktitut, and in French as "Toundra et Taiga". Its segment on walrus hunting near Ivujivik, called "Season of Sharing", is also available as "La saison du partage".

This triple packaging has enabled TPI to find partners in Quebec and France.

In fact, Beaupré said that a 13- hour series with a French production company is currently in discussion.

"And we are currently putting the financing together for a large project, 'The Circumpolar People,' " Beaupré said. "This docmentary will bring us to Siberia, the country of the Samis, Alaska, Greenland, to Nunavut and Nunavik."

Before starting at TPI, Beaupré was a producer for the Quebec government's native affairs department, le Secrétariat des affaires Autochtones, for more than 25 years, and he brought along his long-time contacts in media and aboriginal communities when he set up the new production company, TPI, in 1996.

Beaupré, himself a member of a Quebec First Nation, said that he's committed to working with young Inuit to train them in all aspects of video production work.

Most of the filming for TPI productions is done by Nunavimmiut based in Kuujjuaq, although TPI's administrative offices are still located in Montreal.

"The market is here," Beaupré said. "When you deal with SODEC [Quebec's major funding office for films) or Telefilm, you have to be here."

Two weeks ago TPI moved from offices that it shared with Nunavik's broadcaster Taqramiut Nipingat Inc. into larger, more accessible premises in Lachine.

Beuapré invites anyone interested in visiting to stop by at 1395 Notre-Dame Street in Montreal or call 514-637-8284.