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Inuk actress and director Lucy Tulugarjuk previews ‘beautiful’ new film Tautuktavuk

Iglulik’s Lucy Tulugarjuk is excited to share her latest film project with the world.
From left, Iglulik’s Carol Kunnuk and Lucy Tulugarjuk appear in a still from the film Tautuktavuk (What We See). They directed and starred in the film together. The film is set to debut at the 2023 Toronto International Film Festival. Photo courtesy of Isuma Distribution International

Iglulik’s Lucy Tulugarjuk is excited to share her latest film project with the world.

The film, titled Tautuktavuk (What We See), is set to debut at the 2023 Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), with a premiere screening on Sept. 10, and a second screening on Sept. 12.

Tulugarjuk, who co-starred and directed alongside fellow Iglulikmiut Carol Kunnuk, is relieved to have production behind her.

“I’m very happy,” she said. “It was a challenging film, but I’m so relieved it’s been completed and it’s ready to be presented to the world.

“It took a little longer than our other films.”

The film, which took roughly three years to make due to pandemic-related delays, follows the lives of two sisters: Uyarak, played by Tulugarjuk, and the older Saqpinak, played by Kunnuk.

Over the course of the story, the pair work through past trauma together, first over Zoom, and later, together in Iglulik, where Tulugarjuk’s character reconnects with family, local Elders, and the land.

Tulugarjuk hopes that the film, which tackles weighty subjects like sexual abuse with great care, will remind any viewers who are carrying their own trauma that there is help available—and often close to home.

“It’s powerful and important to be brought to people’s attention that even if we go through hardship there are ways we can ask for help and support,” she said. “There’s so much trauma [among] Inuit and First Nations.

“It’s OK to go to elders, they are open to listen and give and advice,” she added.

Tulugarjuk also hopes the film will help change perceptions of Inuit among non-Indigenous people, having experienced and witnessed racism in southern Canada first-hand.

“I live in Montreal, and I lived in Ottawa, and I also lived in Edmonton, and in all of those three places in the Southern part of Canada, even in today’s world, there’s racism when you’re Indigenous, when you’re Inuk,” she said. “We’re often seen as either a drunk or a lazy person. We’re not all drunks and we’re not all lazy people, and I would love the world to understand that they can’t just judge us for what they see out on the streets, because that’s not who we are.

“Come to the North and learn, or come and watch our film and see how the reality is in modern day,” she added. “We don’t live in igloos, we have houses and TVs and microwaves. We’re modern. We caught up so quickly with the European world that I think it’s time for settlers to take space to understand who we are and why things became the way they are, and what we’re trying to do to make things work for Inuit and non-Inuit.”

The team behind Tautuktavuk is planning for a theatrical release across Canada in Jan. 2024, and a tour of communities in Nunavut in March.

While Tulugarjuk will be busy promoting the film for the time being, she also has two other projects in the works: an animated series for young people, and a documentary about violence against women.

Lucy Tulugarjuk runs through the snow barefoot in a still from the film Tautuktavuk (What We See). Tulugarjuk starred in the film, and also served as co-director alongside Carol Kunnuk. Photo courtesy of Isuma Distribution International

About the Author: Tom Taylor

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