Igloolik’s Arnait video group to premiere its next feature film in Iqaluit
Uvanga is one of the collective's first contemporary stories
The Arnait Video Collective’s newest film, Uvanga, will celebrate its northern premiere in Iqaluit later this month.
Uvanga — “myself” in Inuktitut — is based on a narrative common to Nunavut: children of mixed ancestry trying to bridge the gap between the North and the South.
The film tells the story of Anna, a woman who had a brief affair with her son’s father in Igloolik, and then left the community to raise their son, Tomas, in Montreal.
The drama unfolds over a two-week period when she decides to bring Tomas to Igloolik to meet the extended family of his father, who died under mysterious circumstances.
“We decided to make this film because we’d never really done a contemporary story,” said Marie-Hélène Cousineau, who co-directed the film with Madeline Piujuq Ivalu.
“The question of identity for two young men, it’s a kind of universal subject,” she said. “But at the same time, it’s set in a very particular place, which is the North.”
Uvanga was filmed in Igloolik in the summer of 2012 to capture both the beauty and the more harsh aspects of the 24-hour sunlight.
Shooting in co-director Madeline Piujuq Ivalu’s hometime also helped secure a commitment from the community, Cousineau said, to support and take part in the process.
“It was interesting, because as an elder [Ivalu] wanted to talk about modern realities,” Cousineau said. “But at that same time, she was scared to show certain things.”
In the end, Cousineau said the community was responsive to the movie. Following a local showing last September, elders commented that they were able to see how their community had evolved from watching it on the screen.
With more and more films bring made in Nunavut — by and for Inuit — there is also a growing interest among northern viewers, Cousineau noted.
“I think everyone will take away something different,” she said. “But I hope people are proud to see what other Inuit are creating.”
Uvanga features a large number of Igloolik actors, including Carol Kunnuk, Travis Kunnuk and Peter-Henry Arnatsiaq.
Tomas’s role is played by newcomer Lukasi Forrest of Kuujjuaq.
Uvanga is the second feature from the Arnait video collective, the same group that produced the film Before Tomorrow, co-directed by both Cousineau and Ivalu, which won the Best Canadian First Feature at the 2008 Toronto International Film Festival.
Uvanga shows April 25 and April 26 at the Astro Theatre in Iqaluit.
Director Madeline Ivalu and actress Carol Kunnuk will take questions from the audience after each show.