Nunavut filmmakers take horror short, Kajutaijuq, to TIFF

A 15-minute made-in-Nunavut film had two screenings earlier this week as part of Short Cuts Canada at the Toronto International Film Festival. The film’s crew aren’t the only Nunavummiut at the prestigious festival this year.

Kajutaijuq is a 15-minute horror film that tells the tale of an Arctic hunter

Kajutaijuq: The Spirit That Comes was shot over five days this March about a 30-minute snowmobile ride from Iqaluit. Co-producer, Nyla Innuksuk, hopes to turn the 15-minute short into a full-length feature film. (Shawn Innuksuk/Kajutaijuq)

A 15-minute made-in-Nunavut film had two screening earlier this week as part of Short Cuts Canada at the Toronto International Film Festival. 

Kajutaijuq, or The Spirit that Comes, is an Inuktitut horror film, loosely based on Inuit legends.

  • Scroll down to watch the trailer.
Cast and crew from Kajutaijuq include Ellen Hamilton, second from left, next to her daughter Nyla and lead actor Johnny Issaluk. In front are Madeleine Ivalu and Marie-Hélène Cousineau, co-directors of the feature film, Uvanga. (Arnait Video/Twitter)
It tells the story of a hunter in the Arctic wilderness, who tries to live by the traditional survival skills passed on to him from his grandfather.

Producer Nyla Innuksuk, actor Johnny Issaluk and director Scott Brachmayer are in Toronto at the festival. 

Innuksuk says people down South aren't used to seeing films from the North that aren't documentaries or dramas. But the young filmmaker says both Inuit and non-Inuit viewers have told her they love the film.

She says the crew has made contact with people who could help turn the 15-minute short film into a full-length feature, and she hopes to work with some of the other short filmmakers.

"Hopefully that's something else that can continue in the Arctic,” Innuksuk says. “Not only promoting filmmakers from the North, but also hopefully collaborations between northern filmmakers and the rest of Canada as well."

Issaluk, an Iqaluit resident who is originally from Chesterfield Inlet, plays the lead role in the film.

"I was terrified," he says of the film's premiere. "I was surprised because I hadn't seen it. I knew what was coming but I still got scared. And I'm in the movie!"

While in Toronto, Issaluk is not just showing the film. He also took some time yesterday to talk about Inuit culture at a Toronto elementary school. 

"There were like what, you eat eyeballs, how does it taste? You eat polar bear? You eat seal raw? Are you crazy? I want to try it." 

Issaluk says by the time he finished his talk, many students wanted to visit the north and hunt polar bears. 

Kaijutaijuq was directed by Scott Brachmayer.

Innuksuk co-wrote and co-produced the film. Her mother, Ellen Hamilton, was also a co-producer.     

Arnait from Igloolik honoured

Marie-Hélène Cousineau and Madeline Piujuq Ivalu, who co-directed the Igloolik feature film, Uvanga, are also in Toronto. The pair were honoured as 2014 Women in Film by Telefilm Canada and Birks at a red carpet ceremony last night.

Uvanga tells the story of a young man who visits Igloolik with his mother to learn more about his father, who died under mysterious circumstances.