An exploration of LGBT identities in Canada’s northern Arctic territory.
Interview with Director Mark Kenneth Woods
Congratulations! Why did you make your film?
Mark: Thank you! We heard about a pride celebration happening in the Canadian Arctic and thought that was so intriguing. We knew there was a story there beyond pride. Unfortunately, we had little time to act on it as the celebration was a month away. But, the more research we did, the more we felt compelled to tell this story. Even if we had to pay for it ourselves. So that’s precisely what we did!
Imagine I’m a member of the audience. Why should I watch this film?
Mike: The average viewer would know next to nothing about Canada’s largest and most northern territory of Nunavut and its indigenous people – The Inuit. As members of the LGBTQ community, we are always looking for the untold stories and the under-represented members of our community.
Our film came about as we wanted to cover their one of a kind Pride celebration. Quickly, it became an exploration of a northern territory, its native inhabitants and their lost or hidden history of identity, family structures and sexuality.
I think it’s important to highlight the stories of those who maybe haven’t had the chance to tell their stories. Our film is an exploration of colonialism, Christianity, sexuality and gender identity while living in an area with some of the harshest conditions on the planet. This story hasn’t been told before so it’s a good reason to watch our film.
How do personal and universal themes work in your film?
Mark: It was an interesting process to look inward at our own present day North American culture and see how we’ve colonized and Christianized so many Indigenous cultures and how that influence effectively erased LGBT2Q identities of all sorts.
The Arctic, in particular, was colonized so recently that we can really trace each step. What was fascinating, yet heartbreaking, is that the story is so similar to many countries in South America, Africa, South East Asia and India in particular. Colonization and religion have been so effective in convincing people that LGBT2Q identities never belonged in those places when, in truth, the cultures were, at some point, almost always more accepting of sexual diversity than we are today in the Western world.
In many cases, they were even celebrated. I think in watching how this has happened to Inuit, one can really begin to think about how many other cultures may also have had past identities that relate to sexual practices, gender and family structures. And that’s the kind of work and research we hope to encourage.
How have the script and film evolved over the course of their development and production?
Mike: Being a documentary, our film was in constant “development.” When we embarked on our journey to shoot in Nunavut, we thought the film would be centered on their Pride celebration. However, we quickly discovered the complexities and tensions in throwing a Pride event in the community of Iqaluit in 2015.
We talked to queer folks, activists and allies who were all responsible for substantial change in the territory. Structurally, the film came with its own unique challenges and the editing process was at times painstaking and never-ending.
Pride became such a small part of our film because it is so important to know the pieces of the puzzle that came before this event that directly affected the attitudes and belief systems of those who live in the community.
What type of feedback have you received so far?
Mark: The feedback has been wonderful from everywhere so far. I’m always thrilled to hear that people were moved, maybe shed a tear, smiled, felt hopeful and learned so much. But, as part of our mandate in making this film, we also wanted to make sure we gave back to the community that shared their stories with us.
So not only is the film screening in Iqaluit for free on July 1st, but The Government of Nunavut’s Health Department will be using donated copies of the film for education and suicide-prevention in communities throughout the North. I think that’s the biggest compliment we could ever receive.
Has the feedback surprised or challenged your point of view?
Mike: The feedback has been very positive for us. It was tough to go to Nunavut and talk to many Inuk individuals because we are Southerner, outsiders, white and our subjects did not know us apart from a quick email introduction.
We questioned whether or not this was our story to tell. We talked to one of our subjects and she said, “If you don’t tell this story, it will be a long time before someone else does.” This was the endorsement we felt we needed. As LGBTQ filmmakers and proud community members, we feel we do have license to tell LGBTQ stories and that’s what we set out to do. I think we could all work towards learning more about the history of their native country’s people, especially those that our school system ignores.
What are you looking to achieve by having your film more visible on www.wearemovingstories.com?
Mark: We’ve had a tremendous amount of support from press but we’re always looking for more interest to spread the word and, obviously, for more festivals to play it. We sold out both our World and International Premieres so there is plenty of audience interest. There is a real demand for these kind of stories and, naturally, we’d like to get it on TV or streaming in any territory. Hello Netflix!
We Are Moving Stories embraces new voices in drama, documentary, animation, TV, web series and music video. If you have just made a film - we'd love to hear from you. Or if you know a filmmaker - can you recommend us? More info: Carmela
Two Soft Things, Two Hard Things
Length: 71 minutes
Director: Mark Kenneth Woods/ Michael Yerxa
Producer: Mark Kenneth Woods/ Michael Yerxa
Writer: Mark Kenneth Woods/ Michael Yerxa
About the writer, director and producer:
Mark Woods is a writer, producer, director, actor and TV host whose films and TV Series (The Face of Furry Creek, This is Drag, Starbuck’s “Coffee Frenemies”) have been broadcast on television in over a dozen countries and have been screened in over 300 festivals.
Mike Yerxa was an original cast member on Logo TV and MTV Canada’s 1 Girl 5 Gays. He is producer on some of Canada’s most successful factual television shows including The Amazing Race Canada.
Key cast: Jesse Mike, Jack Anawak, Alethea Arnaquq-Baril, Maureen Doherty, Allison Brewer, Nuka Fennell .
Looking for: Buyers, TV Acquisitions, film festival programming, journalists.
Made in association with: MKW Productions Inc.
Where can I get more info: www.twosofttwohard.com
Where can I watch it: Saturday, June 25th at 2:00pm at Roxie Theater as part of Frameline Film festival
Other screenings updated regularly at www.twosofttwohard.com/screenings