Trees and funny accents: Qanurli does Nunavik
“We’ve got a good fan base here"
KUUJJUAQ — The creators of the Nunavut comedy show Qanurli won’t say too much about what viewers can expect to see during its fifth season, except to say that there will be trees involved.
That’s because the show’s cast and crew was filming with Kuujjuaq’s stumpy black spruce as the backdrop this past weekend, the first time Qanurli has based an episode outside the territory.
“We’ve wanted to come here for a long time, so this is exciting,” said Vinnie Karetak, who plays Nipangi Huittuq, over Sunday brunch at the Kuujjuaq Inn.
“We’ve got a good fan base here in Nunavik,” said Anguti Johnston, aka Inuk Qablunaaq, who has his own roots in Nunavik: he spent part of his childhood in the Hudson coast community of Inukjuak.
This episode the crew was filming follows Qanurli’s main characters, Nipangi and Inuk, around Kuujjuaq while they scout local talent for a new Inuk television network that they hope to start.
Kuujjuaq’s Olivia Ikey Duncan, a local youth employment counsellor, provided on-site support, helping them find local actors and shooting locations around the community of 2,300.
“Do you want us to pretend to do a Nunavut accent?” Ikey Duncan asked.
“No, no,” Johnston responded. “Do a thick Kuujjuaq accent.”
The diversity of Inuktut dialects on set creates linguistic challenges for the show’s producers — who hail from all three of Nunavut’s regions — like trying to find a neutral word that Inuit viewers from across Nunavut will understand.
With a weekend in Nunavik, the crew added another regional dialect to the mix.
“How do we say ‘bugs’ in a way that everyone will understand?” Johnston asked, offering an example of a weekend dilemma. The crew settled on qupirquk in the end.
But that was not enough to set them back. Eventually, Qanurli creators would love to visit the “entire Inuit world,” as Johnston puts in, from Alaska across to Greenland.
Qanurli can do that, now that it’s stopped working with the Inuit Broadcasting Corp., which bound the show to Nunavut.
The show’s producers have now started their own Iqaluit-based Qanukiaq Studios, which produces the show in association with the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network.
The show’s creators can say season five will be bigger and better than anything they’ve produced in the past. That’s largely thanks to new funding through the Canadian Media Fund and Nunavut Film Development Corp., which has tripled the show’s budget.
“We’re able to bring in a bigger crew — before we were limited to four or five people multi-tasking,” Johnston said.
“Now we’re able to bring in more professionals to teach us new skills. Sometimes our crew is 20 people.”
“We went from being really terrible…” begins Karetak.
“We’ve grown,” interjects Johnston, laughing. “We were all really new to television when we started, but we’ve learned a lot over these five seasons.”
Qanurli season five rolls out on APTN in September 2016.