Image from Alan Zweig’s film There is a House Here, which is currently being screened at TIFF on Sept. 12, 14 and 16.

By Rick Garrick

Toronto filmmaker Alan Zweig credits his success with his documentary film about Nunuvut — There is a House Here — to the assistance of musician Tatanniq (Lucie) Idlout.

“To make it with her was like a gift because I had a friend up there and somebody who could help me and somebody who could be in the film,” Zweig says. “I was lucky enough to get money to make a film so I could learn something about Nunavut and feel some familiarity with the culture and the people and maybe if I was lucky pass on some of that to other southern Canadians like myself.”

There is a House Here, one of the translations for Iglulik (Igloolik), where 90 per cent of the film was made, is currently being screened at TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival) on Sept. 12, 14 and 16. Zweig initially met Idlout through Facebook when she was pursuing her music career in Toronto, but after she moved back home to Nunuvut they would occasionally talk over the phone.

“Over time, through phone calls and communicating on Facebook, we became friends who seemed to have a similar attitude, I suppose you could say, and in the end it just seemed as though it would be interesting for two people with a similar attitude (to work on a film), even though our knowledge of the subject in the film that came to be was different,” Idlout says. “It was an incredible process that we did over three separate shoots. Part of it was shot in Iqaluit and a large part of it was shot in Iglulik and it is a beautiful movie.”

Zweig says the film provides viewers with an opportunity to meet the people in Iquluit and Iglulik.

“The key thing I would like people to take away is this is their home, this is their land,” Zweig says. “It is a place where very few of us could survive but they have survived there for thousands of years.”

Zweig adds that viewers will be surprised with the images of the landscape in the film.

“Your view is a long view,” Zweig says. “You’re always seeing the horizon, unless it is too snowy, and then it is just like this beautiful white backdrop. I think a lot of people will be surprised how beautiful it is.”

Idlout says the film provides a “really accurate portrayal” of what life is like in the North, including all of its warts and all of its beauty.

“You can see the connection that community members have with each other,” Idlout says. “You can see how important the Elders are in directing younger people, and I’m not specifying youth, I mean anybody who isn’t an Elder, in traditional knowledge. And you can also see the connection that we have with the land and how the animals of the land continue to sustain us.”

Idlout says the film also raises some hard issues that will be difficult to watch.

“But there is such great balance between the highs and the lows that I don’t think anybody will be disappointed,” Idlout says.

Zweig says the TIFF film screening is a “nice way to punctuate” the finishing of the film.

“TIFF is a good place to try and get it out to the rest of the world,” Zweig says. “There are people here from every continent and most of the countries in the world.”

There is a House Here will also be featured on TVO in December.