Discussion between Atuat Akkirtik, costume designer, actress from Igloolik and Marie-Helene Cousineau

18 May 2007,  Igloolik , Interpretor: Mary Kunnuk

MHC: Now that a little bit of time has passed since the shooting of the film, what do you think of this experience?

Atuat: When I acted in Atanarjuat and The Journals of Knud Rasmussen, [produced by Igloolik Isuma Productions, directors Zacharias Kunuk and Norman Cohn,2001 and 2006 ) it was quite an experience. I find that the movie we are making now is being done in a more traditional way. In the other films, the actors did not really have much input because the dialogues were already decided. When we made Before Tomorrow we put more of what we wanted to say into the movie. It gave us more confidence to help you.

We had lots of meetings and it was helpful to receive information before we had to do our work. I appreciated the meetings before the shoots. I am not saying anything bad about the way the others films were made, but it was more of a masculine style. Our film was made from more of a woman's point-of-view. I felt less stress.

MHC: Is there a scene from the film that brings to mind powerful memories?

Atuat:  The scene in which the Inuit in the village are all dead because of a sickness they caught from the people who came by boats. When I was a child, it was like that after the boats came  — we Inuit were sick and had the flu. I also remember that when I was young there was a sickness like smallpox that came from North of here. It came after the visitors left. My mother put seal blubber all over our bodies. That scene reminded me of that.

What did you think of the exchange between Puvirnituq and Igloolik?

Atuat: Susan (Avingaq, the art director) and I talked about how we gave the people of Puvirnituq back their traditional ways. The elders in Puvirnituq are not teaching traditions so much.

What we learned from them is that elders and young people can work together very well. They are doing that there, much more so than here in Igloolik. We need to do that here, to have young people involved with elders.

MHC: How did the people of Puvirnituq react to you?

Atuat: People asked me, "How did you do all the costumes by yourself?" I had to explain that we are a group of women who sew together! I explained that here, in Igloolik, we elders meet and work together and that sometimes we teach. In Puvirnituq there were only three women who knew how to sew traditional clothing. Everybody agreed that we have to teach young people to make traditional clothing before it is forgotten.


14 December 2009


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