Two Soft Things, Two Hard Things (2016) | Bfi Flare Festival 2017
Dirs: Mark Kenneth Woods | Michael Yerxa | Canada | Doc | 71min
Taking its name from the Inuktitut language translation of lesbian and gay, literally: “two soft things rubbing together” and “two hard things rubbing together” this documentary explores the experiences of LGBT Inuits and examines their survival since the 1950s where colonisation, religion, forced migration, and cultural assimilation impacted on their communities in northwest Canada. This is largely viewed from the perspective of the small but growing community of LGBT Inuit people living in Nunavut, where they prepare for one of the world’s more remote and snowbound Pride festivals, taking place in the territorial capital of Iqaluit.
It emerges that LGBT identity and long-term same-sex relationships have always existed in Inuit culture, and same-sex sexual activity was common and accepted, particularly as a remedy for social and sexual isolation during times when men and women were segregated from each other as the men left for the traditional hunting season. These cultures norms continued until Catholicism emerged as a dominant religion during the 1950s, although Inuit spirituality still forms an important of their culture, despite many having been taught that homosexuality is incompatible with their traditions, causing a number to move south to large Canadian cities such as Ottowa and Quebec.
Without a straightforward narrative but benefitting from superb cinematography of the wild and snowy landscapes of the region, the film takes on an episodic style with the directors combining archive footage and photos with a series of talking head interviews with those who have commited to uncovering and reclaiming the hidden history of the Inuks, amongst these are filmmaker Alethea Arnaquq-Baril, politicians Jack Anawak and Paul Okalik, and activists Allison Brewer, Nuka Fennell and Jesse Mike. MT
BFI FLARE FILM FESTIVAL 2017 | 16-26 MARCH 2017