Press: Two lovers and their bear come home to Iqaluit

If you have ever lived in Iqaluit, you might want to want to catch Kim Nguyen’s latest feature film, Two Lovers and a Bear.

Like the audience that packed both theatres at the Astro Theatre in Iqaluit Oct. 28 for the film’s Nunavut première, you’ll likely get a kick out of seeing people and places you recognize.

One of the magic-realism film’s major backdrops is Nunavut’s capital, where Nguyen spent six weeks filming in 2015.

And if you haven’t lived in Iqaluit, the film’s Canadian-born and Emmy Award-winning star Tatiana Maslany offered all sorts of reasons to visit the place and see the film.

“It’s one of those places you never get used to how beautiful it is. When you land, one side of the plane is the most gorgeous sunset, and on the other side is a white out,” Maslany told Nunatsiaq News from the premiere’s reception Oct. 28 at the Hotel Arctic.

Two Lovers and a Bear, which had its world première at the Cannes Film Festival in May, is a story about two lovers haunted by their own troubled pasts.

The couple, desperate to escape their nameless northern community, are helped from time to time by a talking polar bear who offers insights and enjoys whisky.

Before the film screened at the Astro Theatre, Maslany tried to say a few words to the audience but was cut short when emotions got the better of her.

“I’ve been crying since I landed basically,” she explained at the reception.

“It was such an amazing experience to be here for those six weeks that we shot. It’s a part of Canada I didn’t know.”

But it’s a part that Maslany said she quickly connected with deeply because the place and people reminded her of her hometown, Regina.

“Something about my experience in Regina, there was an echo of it here. I felt at home, like I was around the people I would’ve been friends with growing up. I loved the community and the people I met.”

The film, even though it’s set in a fictional, nameless Arctic town, does not shy away from some of the most serious troubles that plague Iqaluit and Nunavut.

For example, Maslany’s character, Lucy, is chased by the ghost of her father, who sexually abused her as a child.

“I don’t think the film is seeking to tell the story of what it’s like to live [in Iqaluit]. The place is more of a setting that allows for themes of love and the deep need for connection, the past being ever present—things that we can’t just run away from,” Maslany said.

Although the two main characters are not Inuit, Maslany said there’s significance in using Iqaluit as the backdrop to the film.

“Even just the exposure of what it looks like up here. It’s not this mythical place, but there are people up here who party, go to the Legion, have a great time, watch A Tribe Called Red—it’s got a lot of similarities to what it’s like in the South.”

But the audience at the Iqaluit screening picked up on details and humour that audiences at the film’s other screenings simply missed, Maslany said.

“When we screened at Cannes, people were going, ‘Oh, what an interesting thing, I didn’t know that.’ Whereas here, you’ve lived it, you know these things. This was my favourite screening,” she said.

Press: ‘It’s magical:’ Tatiana Maslany on filming Two Lovers and a Bear in Canada’s Arctic

‘You can kind of let the environment be a scene partner,’ says actor.

Tatiana Maslany, one of the stars of Two Lovers and a Bear, says her time shooting in Nunavut was an eye-opening experience, and she wants more Canadian filmmakers to work in the North and more Inuit to tell their stories.The film, directed by Kim Nguyen, is an offbeat romance about two lovers who find refuge in the Arctic from their pasts. Two Lovers and a Bear had its first Nunavut screening on Saturday at Iqaluit’s Astro theatre.

Maslany, a Regina-born actor who recently won an Emmy for her work on the TV series Orphan Black, spent six weeks in Iqaluit last spring during filming. Part of the movie was also shot in Timmins, Ont. Standing before a theatre full of the film’s Iqaluit cast and crew, Maslany got choked up. She said the connections she made with the people and the Arctic landscape have had a lasting effect on her.

“I think Nunavut is incredible,” said Maslany. “It’s so varied from what it is day to day. It’s magical. It’s another world entirely, the way the snow looks, the sky, the ocean — everything.” Maslany said it was a luxury to be able to work against the landscape in which the story is set. “You can kind of let the environment be a scene partner,” she said. Despite the cold, and grappling with equipment mishaps and breakdowns, Maslany said she had a lot of fun in the North.

“I felt there were less challenges for me than joys,” she said. She said she had a near disaster on a Ski-Doo when she forgot about the camera rig attached to her machine and ricocheted off the side of a snow drift, causing her co-star Dane DeHaan to get knocked off his Ski-Doo. In the end everyone got out unscathed and the crew gathered blooper reel gold.

Her time in Iqaluit filming Two Lovers and a Bear was Maslany’s first trip to Canada’s Arctic. She said before coming North she knew very little about this part of Canada.

“I was ashamed of how little I knew, how little I’ve been told and how little I investigated,” said Maslany.

“It ended up being one of my favourite places on the planet and I’ve travelled a lot.”
Now the actress wants to encourage other filmmakers to work in in the North.
“It’s important for film crews to come up here and work up here and tell these stories because it’s who we are,” she said.
She said telling stories set in the North is essential to embracing Canada’s true identity.

“We’ve created an identity for Canada that has nothing to do with the roots of Canada and our Indigenous people,” she said.
“I think that’s a big mistake. We’re putting out some other identity which isn’t who we are.”
Her advice to Nunavut filmmakers is: “just tell your story.”

“Embrace everything you know about where you grew up and the stories that you’ve been told and defend those. Because we really need voices from up here to reach out. We need to hear these stories.”

Press: Emmy winner Tatiana Maslany on saying goodbye to ‘Orphan Black’

“I’m going to be really sad to not be these characters anymore,” Tatiana Maslany told an audience at the Vancouver International Film Festival just weeks before filming for the fifth and final season of “Orphan Black” commenced. She laughed, “Hopefully we get some answers to things because I have a lot of questions!”

Despite consecutive Critics’ Choice Awards as Best Drama Actress for the first two seasons of the science-fiction series, Maslany only received her first Emmy nomination last year for the third season and finally won the Emmy last month for the fourth. It was a monumental achievement, as she became the first Canadian actress ever to win an Emmy for leading a series. Coincidentally, she was presented the trophy by the last Canadian to win for leading a series: Kiefer Sutherland (drama “24” in 2006), who garbled her name.

In Vancouver to promote her new film “The Other Half,” which premiered at South by Southwest in March yet remains without an American distributor, Maslany reflected on her rise to stardom. She lamented that she now regularly receives offers for parts in the vein of her work on “Orphan Black,” in which she plays a series of clones. “I did this part so that I would not be pigeonholed,” she ruefully admits. Yet, in “The Other Half,” Maslany plays bipolar.

Maslany was receptive to the suggestion by moderator Tim Goodman from The Hollywood Reporter that she seek comedic roles. She revealed, “Comedy is my biggest joy in life to watch. I just find it fascinating.” Over the course of the discussion, Maslany cited television dramedies “Louie” and “Transparent,” as well as Aziz Ansari, as inspirations. “I was peeing my pants there,” Maslany recounted about working with Ansari during her 2013 guest spot on the sitcom “Parks and Recreation.” “That is the scariest thing that I’ve ever done,” she revealed.

Maslany can currently be seen in Canadian theaters in Kim Nguyen’s “Two Lovers and a Bear” and star opposite Jake Gyllenhaal in the upcoming film“Stronger.” As for what she will do when “Orphan Black” wraps production, Maslany admitted, “I’ve never kind of known what I wanted to do next. I’d love to go back to do theatre again — do some live stuff.”

Press/Photos: Toronoto Now Magazine

Tatiana is featured on the current issue of Toronto Now. Check out scans below and a writeup of the article.

2016: Toronto Now

Globally, women are making big strides in the movie industry. But in Canada, we’re lagging way behind. We talked to a group of fierce, frustrated filmmakers to find out why

When Canada’s Tatiana Maslany of the hit TV series Orphan Black won the Emmy for lead actress in a drama, she used her acceptance speech to remind the entertainment industry about a glaring problem.

“I feel so lucky to be on a show that puts women at the centre,” she announced.

Maslany’s moment arrived almost a year after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau implemented gender parity in his cabinet (“Because it’s 2015!”); six months after the National Film Board of Canada announced that 50 per cent of its productions would be by female filmmakers; and a week after TIFF hosted a vital Dialogues session called Women At The Helm: “Because it’s 2016!”

The TIFF panel included representatives from other countries who outlined their initiatives for getting more women in the director’s chair and described the very real struggles in getting there.

Sally Caplan, the head of production at Screen Australia, explained the multiple initiatives in place to achieve a 50/50 gender split in the films down under by 2018. The amazing Anna Serner, CEO of the Swedish Film Institute, spelled out how she had already achieved gender parity in her country’s cinema.

Then came Carolle Brabant, the executive director of Telefilm Canada, our primary funding body. Since spring, Telefilm had been hyping a major announcement.

And Brabant delivered it: “Our intention is to have by 2020 a more diverse portfolio in terms of gender, in terms of cultural diversity and in terms of Indigenous representation.”

That’s it. No initiatives. No specific targets. No ideas on how Telefilm plans to improve representation.

Brabant sounded like that kid in math class who hadn’t done her homework, scrambling for an answer when the teacher called her to break down a linear equation. She latched onto the “50/50 by 2020” movement but left out the essential 50/50 part. Telefilm’s chief representative instead promised a “working group” that will meet this month to discuss how in four years it will achieve some vague sense of improved diversity (from almost none).

“But that doesn’t mean anything,” says Maslany, when I report Telefilm’s some-sort-of-improvement plan to her.

We’re at TIFF days after the panel, and just days before the Emmys. Maslany’s gearing up for the premiere of Two Lovers And A Bear, an Arctic-set drama about a turbulent love affair that opens this weekend. She walked into this interview vibrant and cheery, but her mood gave way to concerned and frustrated. She fought to find words.

“It just baffles me,” she says. “It is really hard for women to get into rooms that men are freely flowing in and out of. There are weird stigmas around female directors, like they don’t have technical savvy. There’s just all this bullshit. It’s like from the fucking 50s.

“This shouldn’t even be a conversation any more,” she adds. “How is there still reticence toward change? We shouldn’t have to get angry because it shouldn’t be happening. I think people are really scared to shift systems. It is such a male system, and it works and makes money.”

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