A women's film collective from Igloolik, Nunavut, is celebrating a big win from its debut feature film after it scored a major prize at the 33rd Toronto International Film Festival.
Before Tomorrow, an Inuktitut-language movie co-directed by Marie-Hélène Cousineau and Madeline Piujuq Ivalu of Igloolik's Arnait Video Productions Collective, won best Canadian first feature at the prestigious film festival's awards luncheon Saturday.
"Now it's just sinking in, that it's a very important award for us," Cousineau told CBC News Monday.
"Hopefully it will allow us to make another film or ... keep doing what we're doing."
The award carries a $15,000 cash prize for the collective, which Cousineau and Ivalu helped found in 1991 in Igloolik.
The collective has produced a number of videos and documentaries from the perspective of Inuit women over the years, but Cousineau said the group has long struggled for funding and international recognition. Before Tomorrow is the collective's first feature film.
"This award and this feature film maybe will make people realize that ... they can trust us for bigger projects, too," she said.
Based on the novel Før Morgendagen by Danish author Jørn Riel, Before Tomorrow depicts the struggles of an Inuk woman and her grandson after they become trapped on a remote Arctic island.
The story was adapted by Cousineau, Ivalu and Susan Avingaq, another Arnait member.
The movie was co-produced by Igloolik Isuma Productions Inc. and Kunuk Cohn Productions, who created the critically acclaimed films Atanarjuat (The Fast Runner) and The Journals of Knud Rasmussen.
Speaking to CBC News in Inuktitut, co-director Ivalu, who also stars in Before Tomorrow, said she did not expect the film to win at TIFF, and she is still emotionally moved every time she watches it.
Ivalu, 67, said her role as co-director was to keep things authentic. She said that she recalled her own life experiences and incorporated elements from those experiences into the film.
Cousineau said she expects Before Tomorrow to be released across Canada this winter.