portrait of children

The characters of Anna and Tomas were not inspired by anyone in particular, but there are many families like theirs in the world today: separated, mixed-blood children discovering their roots and shaping their identities; grandparents connecting with newly found grandchildren; and adults trying to mend broken relationships.

This story could have taken place anywhere, but the one we are telling takes place in the North in a remote community on Baffin Island. The script is anchored in the culture, lifestyle, people, and place of Igloolik, Nunavut.

At Arnait, we have been making films in Igloolik for 20 years. After finishing our most recent feature film, Before Tomorrow, our production group went in different directions. The elders, Susan Avingaq and Madeline Ivalu, went on to produce documentaries on traditional customs. Carol Kunnuk directed a documentary on a contemporary female musher, while Marie-Hélène Cousineau directed a two-episode documentary on the impact of mining in the North, as well as a short comedy. Arnait Video also co-produced a documentary series called The Uluit, the story of an all-female hockey team from Inukjuak. The series was nominated for a Gemini for Best Documentary Series. In the last three years, we have also produced various web blogs and documentaries.

With the support of Nunavut Film and Telefilm Canada, the Arnait collective was able to go forward with the development of Uvanga. Marie-Hélène Cousineau continued writing, working with writer and editor Trevor Ferguson, and in the summer of 2011, she returned to Igloolik to discuss the script with the rest of the Arnait group. We went over all the details of the script and had many meetings with prospective actors.

The film is truly an actor’s film. We had the opportunity to work with an exceptional team of experienced Igloolik-based actors. Interestingly, they had never worked on a contemporary story before. Working with them helped us sharpen the scenes and the Inuktitut dialogue developed in the script. We used this same approach with Before Tomorrow to ensure absolute cultural authenticity.

In shooting the film, we wanted the camera to focus on the actors and let them shine. The camera work allows the audience to view the world of the film through the characters’ eyes. We wanted the film to depict an explosion of emotions and the flow of life, without dwelling on resolutions or closure. With this emotionally open and natural approach, we hope that the audience will feel close to the characters through the events of their lives.

Directors Madeline Ivalu and Marie-Hélène Cousineau