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Sundance Film Festival 2019: “Throat Singing in Kangirsuk” Review

The 2019 Sundance Film Festival will be held January 24 through February 3 in Park City, Utah. This year, eight Indigenous-made films from Australia, New Zealand and the United States will be premiering at the festival. The Native American and Indigenous Film Program has a global focus and strengthens Indigenous cinema through its work. 

Photo courtesy of Sundance Film Institute

Following President and Founder Robert Redford’s original vision, the Sundance Institute has remained committed to supporting Native American artists throughout the Institute’s history. This support has established a rich legacy of work and has supported more than 300 filmmakers through labs, grants, mentorships, public programs and the platform of the Sundance Film Festival.

Such a story is being told in “Throat Singing in Kangirsuk.” The film was made by Eve Kaukai (age 18) and Maron Chamberland (age 17) in conjunction with Wapikoni, a First Nations creative collective. These impressive young Inuit women are exploring themes of language, culture, the land and all living things with a performance that is striking in its minimalism.

Throat Singing in Kangirsuk
Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Emilie Baillargeon and Clark Ferguson

Set against sweeping shots of the Arctic landscape in the small village of Kangirsuk, Eva Kaukai and Manon Chamberland practice the native art of throat singing.

What a fascinating film. In a very short amount of time, we’re given such an intimate and sincere look at an underappreciated cultural art. You may be familiar with the work of Tanya Tagaq, a punk Inuit singer that brought throat singing into the mainstream, but what we’re looking at is something much purer.

Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Emilie Baillargeon and Clark Ferguson

There’s this great juxtaposition to seeing these young, contemporary women engaging in an art form that is so old and so deeply embedded in identity and history. It’s a perfect embodiment of the concept of culture as this everlasting thread in the lives of a group of people.

At face value, it’s a gorgeous film. Beautiful landscape shots and intimate shots of the community create this great blending of community and culture and landscape, all set to the soundtrack of the people that are so connected to that space.

A real joy to experience this little slice of the human experience in this way. Very well done.

There is a lot to love about “Throat Singing in Kangirsuk.” It is so great to see young women filmmakers doing such authentic and moving work. This is a great presentation of region and culture and it’s definitely worthy of praise.

“Throat Singing in Kangirsuk” premieres at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival on January 25, 2019, with subsequent screenings on Jan. 26, Jan. 27, and Jan. 31. You can find the full Sundance Film Festival schedule here. 

Featured image credit: Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Emilie Baillargeon and Clark Ferguson.

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