A short film made in Iqaluit by a producer who’s worked with some of the biggest names in Hollywood premieres Monday night at the Toronto International Film Festival.
Throat Song was written and directed by Miranda de Pencier of Toronto in her debut behind the camera.
The 17-minute film is based on the experiences of Bernadette Dean, an Inuit woman who de Pencier met while developing a feature film in the Arctic.
Dean used to work as a witness assistant, helping witnesses and victims to prepare to testify in court trials. She came across vast amounts of emotional pain in her work, De Pencier said, and it inspired her to write a film about it.
The resulting movie tells the story of Ippik (played by Rankin Inlet artist Ippiksaut Friesen), a young Inuk who works with the victims of crimes and is caught in an abusive relationship herself.
The production has received glowing reviews, with one newspaper critic saying, "It is difficult to believe that a film this good is a first-time directorial effort."
De Pencier said she wanted the final cut to be longer — the first edit was 40 minutes — but she’s elated it will be screening TIFF.
The film received funding from the Nunavut Film Development Corporation and employed a dozen mostly Inuit actors, as well as 14 local crew. It premieres as part of TIFF’s Short Cuts Canada series.
De Pencier has previously worked developing movies for Robert Redford’s production companies; as a producer of the 2006 film Pu-239, for which Steven Soderbergh and George Clooney were executive producers; and as producer of last year’s Beginners, starring Ewan McGregor. She also co-created and executive produced the 2009 CBC TV series Wild Roses.