An evocative, drawn-from-life tale from directors Carol Kunnuk and Lucy Tulugarjuk about two siblings’ attempts to heal and overcome trauma during the pandemic.
Tautuktavuk (What We See)
Carol Kunnuk, Lucy Tulugarjuk
With a verité documentary feel, Tautuktavuk (What We See) draws from its filmmakers’ lives to tell a powerful story of siblings doing their best to connect during the pandemic. Co-directed by Carol Kunnuk and Lucy Tulugarjuk, Tautuktavuk (What We See) presents a relationship between two sisters — one in Montreal and the other in Nunavut — who each deal with trauma in their own way.
Set during the beginning of the global COVID-19 outbreak, the film is told almost entirely through video chats, revealing how isolating the lockdowns are for the sisters — also played by Kunnuk and Tulugarjuk, blurring fact and fiction — especially with the significant physical distance between them.
As Tautuktavuk (What We See) unfolds, the contrast between the sisters’ experiences begins to narrow. At first, we see extremely familiar scenes of each person speaking to their device’s camera, alone from their home. But this begins to open up to communal settings. The elder sister Saqpinak (Kunnuk) is often surrounded by grandchildren and hosts a live-TV event with elders performing ajaajaa songs. The younger sister Uyarak (Tulugarjuk) is with her beautiful daughters in her Montreal apartment, and gets a traditional hand-poked tattoo.
This connection between the sisters and their culture is also the impetus for opening up hard discussions about domestic and childhood sexual abuse. Uyarak has a lot of questions about an experience of childhood sexual abuse that has recently bubbled to the surface for her. Saqpinak, however, waits until they’re finally reunited in Igloolik to share her own story.
Official Selection, 2023 Toronto International Film Festival
Content advisory: sexual violence