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Tautuktavuk (What We See) – TIFF Canada’s Top Ten 2023

Tautuktavuk Canada's Top Ten 2023 Review
A Zoom-conversation heavy blurring between documentary and fiction dealing with two sisters dealing with past trauma during the COVID pandemic.

Tautuktavuk (What We See) – TIFF Canada’s Top Ten 2023

Runtime: 01:22
Synopsis:
After experiencing a traumatic event in Igloolik (an Inuit hamlet in Foxe Basin, Qikiqtaaluk Region in Nunavut), Uyarak leaves her community and family in Nunavut to live in Montréal. When Covid-19 lockdowns close off the Canadian Arctic from the rest of the world, Uyarak is further separated from her closest friend, eldest sister, Saqpinak. This extreme situation blurs the lines of both the fictional lives of the sisters, and the non-fiction lives of the film’s directors, Lucy Tulugarjuk and Carol Kunnuk, who play the sisters.
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Two sisters reconcile past trauma during the COVID-19 pandemic in . During the COVID-19 pandemic, Saqpinak (), who lives in Igloolik, regularly has Zoom conversations with her younger sister Uyarak () in Montreal. Uyarak has been dealing with a past traumatic event that resulted in her having to leave Nunavut. With Saqpinak's guidance, Uyarak uncovers repressed memories of sexual abuse and an event that nearly took her life.

Tautuktavuk (What We See) Synopsis

Tautuktavuk (What We See) is a documentary-style drama directed by Carol Kunnuk and Lucy Tulugarjuk, who also stars as the siblings Saqpinak and Uyarak, who are based on themselves. The film is presented as a documentary, showing Saqpinak's job interviewing elders performing ajaajaa songs and Uyarak in Montreal getting traditional tattoos from her daughter. The majority of the narrative comes in the form of the regular Zoom conversations between Saqpinak and Uyarak, as the former breaks down the latter's nightmares.

My Thoughts on Tautuktavuk (What We See)

If it wasn't for the very staged nightmare sequences, followed by Uyarak jolting herself awake, it would be very easy to view Tautuktavuk (What We See) as a straightforward documentary. Instead, the film heavily blurs the line between reality and fiction. This includes name-dropping the films Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner and The Shaman's Apprentice from director Zacharias Kunuk, both of which feature Lucy Tulugarjuk in acting roles. Ultimately, Tautuktavuk (What We See) presents a story that is not only about coping with past trauma but also dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, which was “brought to Nunavut by the Southerners.

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This post was proofread by Grammarly 

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Sean Patrick Kelly
Sean Patrick Kelly
Sean Patrick Kelly is a freelance film critic and blogger based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
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