In traditional katajjaq, also known as Inuit throat singing, two women stand face to face and perform a duet that doubles as something of a musical battle. Chanting in rhythm, they attempt to outlast one another, each waiting for any crack in the pace of her opponent – whether in the form of loss of breath, fatigue or laughter. In this short from the Canada-based First Nations film initiative Wapikoni Mobile, Eva Kaukai and Manon Chamberland, two throat singers from the remote Inuit village of Kangirsuk in northern Québec, face off in a friendly katajjaq duel. With sweeping imagery of the duo’s Arctic home, the short, which screened at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival, is a transfixing melding of music and landscape.
One day the old people will tell stories of a time when water floated down from the sky, turning all the world white for as far as you could see, lakes and streams became solid enough to skate on, and ice covered the arctic year round to create a different way of life. What a wondrous thing.