The interesting concept behind Tautuktavuk (What We See) isn’t quite realised through muddled execution: TIFF 2023 Review

  • Peter Gray
  • September 15, 2023
  • Comments Off on The interesting concept behind Tautuktavuk (What We See) isn’t quite realised through muddled execution: TIFF 2023 Review

Whilst the mass hysteria and government control surrounding COVID-19 has subsided, the trauma of the pandemic itself is still something that lingers for many.  Tautuktavuk (What We See) is a semi-autobiographical drama that looks at such an effect, furthered by the already isolated reality of the Inuit culture, co-directed by Lucy Tulugarjuk and Carol Kunnuk.

The film quickly establishes the sisterly relationship between Saqpinak (Kunnuk) and Uyaruk (Tulugarjuk), who maintain contact via Zoom (didn’t we all?) as they check in on one another and how they’re individually navigating their new structured surroundings.  These early sequences speak to the film’s relatable nature, especially as it highlights two opposing personalities who are both experiencing the same frustration.

Though there’s a cultural difference between them – Uyaruk has moved to Montreal, whilst Saqpinak has stayed in Igloolik, an Inuit hamlet in Foxe Basin, Qikiqtaaluk Region in Nunavut, northern Canada – their conversations often align as they discuss their loss of both family and innocence; the sisters mention the abuse they suffered as children from a priest, but, quite frustratingly, the film fails to truly explore such a damaging memory.  Ulitmately, much of Tautuktavuk (What We See) feels underdeveloped when it’s attacking such issues and mentioning the statistics of rising domestic abuse since lockdown began.

There seems to be a deeper story lurking underneath the surface – one that the sisters’ dialogue implies – but Tautuktavuk (What We See) is more concerned with their everyday struggles, which, whilst relatable in these post-lockdown times, doesn’t particularly serve much of a narrative interest.  In suggesting a certain trauma the film feels half-developed, but when exploring its insider-perspective of the Inuit culture, Kunnuk and Tulugarjuk’s film is a little more certain of its footing.

At under 90 minutes Tautuktavuk (What We See) certainly has the time to expand on its thoughts, but given what it executes with the concepts put forward, it’s difficult to say more time is what was needed, and perhaps a stronger sense of its own premise is what the evidently passionate and talented co-directing duo need.  Experiencing what others went through regarding the pandemic is both an interesting and triggering postulation, but Tautuktavuk (What We See) doesn’t quite grasp its ideals in a manner that dedicates itself to either temperament.


Tautuktavuk (What We See) is screening as part of this year’s Toronto International Film Festival, running between September 7th and 17th, 2023.

Peter Gray

Film critic with a penchant for Dwayne Johnson, Jason Momoa, Michelle Pfeiffer and horror movies, harbouring the desire to be a face of entertainment news.