Throat Singing In Kangirsuk


Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

Throat Singing in Kangirsuk
"As an atmospheric snapshot, it's sure to raise a smile."

"Let's try not to laugh," instructs one of the two teenage girls of this short Canadian documentary, produced by the Wapikoni initiative, which offers film mentorship and training to indigenous youngsters. The pair, facing off on a snowy landscape, demonstrate the art of a throat singing game. It's a sort of Inuit version of a rap battle, with the rhythmic sounds - inspired by nature and animals - overlaying one another until one person cracks and begins to laugh.

The good-natured competition between Eva Kaukai and Manon Chamberland - who are also the film's co-directors - is accompanied by drone shots of their village, Kangirsuk, in northern Nunavik, Quebec, showing dramatic landscapes as the seasons change, an animal being skinned, children laughing. The idea of time passing matches the music, which, largely wordless, has a primal pull suggesting an ancient history but, with its rhythmic beat, would also be at home in the repertoire of any modern-day beat boxer with sufficient skills.

As an atmospheric snapshot, it's sure to raise a smile, although beyond intimating the nature of the game being played, we're left to guess the history and significance of throat singing to the community. While nobody wants to break the mood, a simple text card at the start of the film outlining the basics would be a welcome addition and help to open this door to their world a little farther.

Reviewed on: 26 Jan 2019
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Two teenagers demonstrate a singing game.

Director: Eva Kaukai and Manon Chamberland

Year: 2018

Runtime: 3 minutes

Country: Canada


Sundance 2019

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