TIFF Docs

There is a House Here

Alan Zweig

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Spanning years of correspondence and three separate trips to Nunavut, Alan Zweig's latest documentary navigates issues of culture and identity with his pen-pal and semi-reluctant guide, Tatanniq Idlout, a.k.a. Inuk rock singer Lucie Idlout.

Throughout his career, documentarian Alan Zweig has been a kind of awkward urban anthropologist, investigating unusual avenues others might never notice. With his latest, There is a House Here, Zweig takes on perhaps his toughest, most complex subject — the lives of Inuit in the far north. The implications of the documentary are significant in the context of Canada's ongoing rocky social dialogue. Taking a refreshingly sincere and self-reflective approach, Zweig admits to coming in with certain assumptions and acknowledges his sometimes uneasy lines of questioning. For some interviewees he is a tough sell. But his undeniable honesty becomes an asset in opening up frank discussion.

Central to the film's success is the heartbreaking candour of people like Lucie, a singer and the film's semi-reluctant guide, who reminds us that while vulnerability and resilience can sometimes be two sides of the same coin, they seldom co-exist peacefully. We hear from a community whose distrust of the south has been fuelled by a long history of abuse, neglect, and resettlement.

Devoid of easy conclusions, but full of trenchant and patient observation, There is a House Here is the most ambitious and possibly most affecting film of Zweig's career.

MAGALI SIMARD

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