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Traditional Inuit Thoat Singing and the Modern World Collide | ARTLECTURE

Traditional Inuit Thoat Singing and the Modern World Collide

-KATATJATUUK KANGIRSUMI (Throat Singing in Kangirsuk)-

by Wapikoni Mobile

Traditional Inuit Thoat Singing and the Modern World Collide
-KATATJATUUK KANGIRSUMI (Throat Singing in Kangirsuk)-
VIEW 257


Official Selection - 2019 Sundance Film Festival

Official Selection - 2019 Sundance Film Festival

TIFF - Young Creators Showcase - TIFF Next Wave Film Festival

Eva and Manon practice the art of throat singing in their native Arctic land, in the small village of Kangirsuk. Interspliced with footage from the four seasons of Kangirsuk from Johnny Nassak. This story is about traditional Inuit thoat singing and the modern world collide in the astonishing video.

Filmmakers Bio:

Eva Kaukai and Manon Chamberland were both born in Nunavik and grew up in Kangirsuk. By participating in a creative stopover with Wapikoni Mobile, they were able to use sound and video to express their reality, their culture and their attachment to the land through throat singing.

About Wapikoni Mobile

Wapikoni Mobile is an intervention, training and creative studio for Indigenous youth. Its mission is to amplify the voices of the Indigenous generation through film and music, to broadcast their work in Canada and abroad, and to act as a tool for professional development and social transformation. Since 2004, thousands of Wapikoni participants from 28 Nations have collaborated on more than 1,200 short films translated into multiple languages and winners of numerous awards and honors at national and international festivals.








1) In an era of autotuned "everyone’s-a-star" perfection, Katajjaq is a hearty hold-out, a community-spirited singing game whose competitors seek neither stardom nor riches, but rather, to challenge themselves and amuse each other without screens throughout the long winter nights.

Practitioner Evie Mark breaks it down thusly:

One very typical example is when the husbands would go on hunting trips.  The women would gather together when they have nothing to do, no more sewing to do, no more cleaning to do, they would just have fun, and one of the ways of entertaining themselves is throat-singing.

It goes like this. Two women face each other very closely, and they would throat sing like this:

If I would be with my partner right now, I would say A, she would say A, I would say A, she would say A, I say C, she says C.  So she repeats after me.  It would be a sort of rolling of sounds.  And, once that happens, you create a rhythm.  And the only way the rhythm would be broken is when one of the two women starts laughing or if one of them stops because she is tired.  It's a kind of game.  We always say the first person to laugh or the first person to stop is the one to lose.  It's nothing serious.  Throat singing is way of having fun.  That's the general idea, it's to have fun during gatherings.  It is also a way to prove to your friends around you or your family that if you are a good throat-singer, you're gonna win the game.

Throat-singing is a very accurate technique in a sense that when you are singing fast, the person who is following the leader has to go in every little gap the leader leaves for her to fill in.  For instance, if I was to say 1 + 1 + 1 + 1, the ones being what I sing and the pluses the gaps, she would go in-between the ones, singing on the pluses.  Then, if I change my rhythm, this woman has to follow that change of rhythm and fill in the gaps of that new rhythm.  She has to be very accurate.  She has to have a very good ear and she has to follow visually what I am doing.

Throat singing is not exactly easy on your diaphragm.  You are using a lot of your muscles in your diaphragm for breathing in and breathing out.  I have to find a space between sounds to breath in in order for me to throat-sing for 20 minutes or more.  20 minutes has been my maximum length of time to throat-sing.  You have to focus on your lungs or your diaphragm.  If you throat-sing using mainly breathing, you are gonna hyperventilate, you're gonna get dizzy and damage your throat.

2) The video, starring Eva Kaukai and Manon Chamberland from Kangirsuk in northern Québec (population: 394), deflates conventional notions of traditional practices as the provenance of somewhere quaint, exotic, taxidermied…

all images/words ⓒ the artist(s) and organization(s)


Production: Wapikoni Mobile

Screenplay: Wapikoni Mobile Team

Co-Directors: Manon Chamberland and Eva Kaukai in collaboration with the Wapikoni Mobile team

Camera: Saviluk Thomassie, Emilie Baillargeon, Clark Ferguson

Drone Operator: Johnny Nassak

Editing: Emilie Baillargeon

Sound Recording: Simon Thériault

Original Music: Eva Kaukai, Manon Chamberland

Filmmaker Mentors: Clark Ferguson, Émilie Baillargeon, Virginia Fernandes

Youth Outreach Worker: Simon Thériault

Assistant Filmmaker: Ulivia Uviluk

Local Coordinator: Ulivia Uviluk

Distributor: Wapikoni mobile –

Wapikoni Mobile