TIFF Reaction – Tautuktavuk/What We See

Continuing my TIFF reactions, I came across a really strong Canadian documentary called TAUTUKTAVUK (WHAT WE SEE) which screened in the TIFF Docs section. It was a busy festival with a lot of movies seen big and small and I was really happy I got to check this one out.

About: After experiencing a traumatic event, Uyarak leaves her community and family in Nunavut to live in Montreal. When COVID lockdowns close off the Canadian Arctic from the rest of the world, Uyarak is further separated from her closest confidant, eldest sister, Saqpinak. Uyarak doesn’t remember much about one terrible night of domestic violence, but Saqpinak does. Through zoom calls, Uyarak talks about healing from years of trauma and abuse, and how counselling and cultural reconnections are helping. It is revealed that Saqpinak is also experiencing domestic abuse at home. When Covid restrictions ease, Uyarak finally travels home to Igloolik where she embarks on a deeper healing journey visiting with family and elders, in town and out on the land.  In a series of vignettes of heartache, healing and overcoming, Tautuktavuk (What We See) blurs the lines of both the fictional lives of the sisters and the non-fiction lives of film’s creators who play the sisters, Lucy Tulugarjuk and Carol Kunnuk, respectively.

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My Reaction: What I liked about WHAT WE SEE is how it goes back and forth between the small community town of Nunavut and Montreal and showing the separation of the family. Though I am typically tired of seeing movies set during the pandemic, WHAT WE SEE does make it work well with city footage, community and keeping in touch via Zoom calls. I also admired the day to day struggle and life of the small community and even though it can look bleak at first it does come off as very visually strong. The effect works quite well, especially when restrictions are lifted and we can really feel the connection coming back. I wish I knew where this movie could go aside from a notable screening in Indigenous communities but it is worth watching if you can find it down the road. 

TIFF Media

Note: a screener was sent to the site for review and it was not viewed during the festival. 

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