Tanya Tagaq and Chelsea McMullan Team Up for NFB Doc ‘Throat’

Tanya Tagaq performing at a 2016 concert
Courtesy of Live at Massey Hall)

By Pat Mullen

After lending her voice to the soundtracks of several dramas and documentaries, Inuk singer and activist Tanya Tagaq is getting the feature film treatment. The upcoming National Film Board of Canada production Throat looks at the persona and popularity of one of Canada’s most acclaimed contemporary artists. The film is produced by Lea Marin (Unarmed Verses) and executive produced by Anita Lee (Stories We Tell) for the NFB with Chelsea McMullan (Michael Shannon Michael Shannon John) directing.

McMullan previously directed by musical documentary My Prairie Home for the NFB and earned a Canadian Screen Award nomination for her film about transgendered singer Rae Spoon. Tagaq’s film credits include the feature films Maliglutit and People of a Feature, and the short Mobilize, all of which make captivating use of her acclaimed throat singing. Tagaq has become an outspoken force in traditional and social media with a voice as strong in the Twittersphere as it is in the concert hall. She’s been particularly vocal in supporting seal meat as an Inuit staple, as well as against cultural appropriation and stereotypes.

“Working with Tanya has been wonderful,” said McMullan in a statement from the NFB. “We’ve developed an extremely fruitful collaboration and I’m excited for it to evolve and grow into the creation of a cinematic experience as immersive, visceral, and immediate as Tanya’s music.”

“Working with Chelsea is easy because we are natural friends,” adds Tagaq. “She knows how to make me comfortable and she is incredibly accomplished and talented. She also likes Arctic char, so it was not much effort to win her over.”

Described as a “metaphysical journey through the life and art of Tanya Tagaq,” Throat examines Tagaq on and off the stage to witness the strength of her voice as both an artist and an activist. Production includes a shoot at Tagaq’s upcoming concert at Toronto’s Trinity-St. Paul’s United Church on November 1st where fans can catch Tagaq’s captivating performance and be in the audience for the shoot. Get tickets here.