Unique struggles with sexuality and familial structures
While exploring the struggles with sexuality and family structures amongst Inuit communities in a colonialized north, a universal truth behind most breakdowns is put forward: fear is bred from ignorance, and this film does an amazing job of informing its audience.
Two Soft Things, Two Hard Things reaches beyond mere facts with heart-wrenching and warming moments, anecdotes of ignorance and the efforts to dispel it, and personal stories of trials and triumph.
Co-writers, directors and producers Mark Kenneth Woods and Michael Yerxa maximized visuals to communicate what mere words could not. Nunavut, founded as a Canadian territory in 1999, is made up of 26 communities and less than 35,000 people. To imagine how small and isolated these populated localities are is difficult, if not near impossible, for those who have not been there. Stunning visuals of the expansive landscapes and little hamlets drive home a much better understanding of how it would feel to live in such as small and isolated place.
The history is essential to the overall understanding of the issues LGBTQ+ individuals face. The film, uses archival photos, elder recollections and research to lay it out an accessible way.
The Inuit’s nomadic lifestyle they’d lived for 3,600 years wasn’t truly dismantled until after the Second World War, once the government found a vested interest in the north as a strategic staging ground for the looming Cold War. Full-blown colonialized efforts, influenced by religious beliefs and a western lifestyle, marginalized the indigenous population and caused cultural trauma suffered not only by the people at the time, but a generational impact still being felt today.
This resulted in a growing belief that homosexuality didn’t exist in the north, and an erasure of the plural marriages that were once an accepted part of Inuit culture. But relentless prodding found one elder who acknowledged there was Inuktitut words for gay and lesbian and they loosely translate to mean ‘two hard things rubbing together’ and two soft things respectively.
From there, a robust unearthing of individual experience and efforts delves into the unique complications of a lifestyle involving alternative family structures and sexual relations and identity. Often, a film will reserve the last 10 or 20 minutes for the positive spin, but here we’re not even half way through before a faint light begins to shine. The fight to include sexual orientation in the Nunavut Human Rights Act is won and the first Pride picnic is established. But as reality dictates, the ebb and flow of life’s challenges continues with excluded youth contributing to suicide rates and the real ground gained has only been in the last decade.
Two Soft Things, Two Hard Things proves everything up north is unique and cannot be painted with the same brush. It’s an incredible portrayal of the people, the culture, the loss and the love that makes it all worthwhile.
Fri., June 9, doors (6 pm) film (9 pm)
Two Soft Things, Two Hard Things
Outdoors at the end of Steel Park
Donation at the door