An immersive experience that is much more than a biographical music documentary Ever Deadly is as much an education as it is a look into Tanya Tagaq’s life. You will undoubtedly come away with something meaningful here.
Tanya Tagaq is an avant-garde Inuit throat singer who continually explores sound transformation with an eye to colonial fallout, natural freedom and Canadian history. Her intimate relationship with the Nuna—the Land—a living, breathing organism is present in all forms of her improvised performances. Weaving between concert footage with sequences in Nunavut, seamlessly bridging landscapes, stories and songs with pain, anger and triumph—all through the expressions of one of our most innovative musical performers.
From the opening minute, you are hooked; you see what Tanya does. There is even time for a little eyebrow raise to occur, showing the confidence and skill at hand by the two. The two singers getting closer and closer, to the point where their noses are pressed against each other, lips millimetres apart. It is everything, powerful, intimate immensely freeing to see people connect musically in such away. Allowing the music from their throats to just emanate outward is quite an extraordinary viewing experience.
This seven-minute sequence is but a drop in the ocean of what will come in Ever Deadly. For someone like myself who is not at all familiar with throat singing or the Inuit culture, it was utterly fascinating to see and hear what could be done musically with your own instrument. While also seeing how their lives have been and are still affected by things that happened long ago and the trauma they still needlessly experience today.
Ever Deadly could have easily gone down the route of just following and focusing on Tagaq. However, there is an openness to educate the audience about her experiences in being forced by the government to relocate and the pain that caused, not just to her but to her family also. Giving us a small glimpse into the trauma that will live long in the souls of indigenous people. As Ever Deadly goes on, we see everything that has happened in her life, her family’s life, and her people’s life comes out of her artistically. It is her way of communicating that pain, with this film just being another effective avenue to get her point across to the world.
As a performer, she is electric, and we see that tenfold when we cut to her on stage. You are compelled by her sound, and what she and her band can do for those moments we get with them. We get so many different pieces melded into Ever Deadly that you can see how clear and important it was for Tagaq to include other artists in her film.
Allowing for a collaborative effort makes the film feel more personal to the Inuit people, not just Tagaq. She is not the only one to have suffered, yet she has a position and voice where we can hear and listen to her; most importantly, understand Tanya and her people want to be seen and represented better than they have been before. This concept could quickly have become clumsy if not handled right, but with Tagaq knowing precisely what she wanted out of her film (there is a reason she is co-director, after all). Chelsea McMullan’s assured hand to guide Ever Deadly works terrifically well and becomes a vital documentary.
Tanya Tagaq is an unstoppable force and her film Ever Deadly shows that in all of its glory, you are carried along for 100 minutes, we get to see Tagaq become herself when she returns up North, be more comfortable in her own skin and it is a joy to behold her do so. What a wonderful experience this film is.
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