It took two years for this film to cross the Atlantic. Released in 2019 in Canada, Kuessipan has finally arrived to us for our greatest happiness! This pearl, in theaters since last week, reminds us why we go to the cinema: travel and emotions.
Mikuan and Shaniss have been friends since they were very young. They live on an Innu Indian reserve in Quebec. They may seem very different and yet they have always understood each other as sisters. Kuessipan explores the mechanics of a friendship as intense and beautiful as it is imperfect.
From the first moments, we understand that these two little girls are united by a stronger bond than a simple school friendship. Shaniss finds her missing family at Mikuan. By abolishing the barriers of intimacy, they have made themselves dependent on each other.
It’s not always bad to have these kinds of passionate relationships. Kuessipan moves away from the dramatic clichés one can see about friendship between women. Here, no destructive jealousy or nameless betrayal. Simply, the course of life which places obstacles in the way. Sometimes they overcome them together, sometimes not. The simplicity and the accuracy of the tone of the director Myriam Verreault transport us and allow us to recognize ourselves in their errors and their judgments.
Kuessipan, a film exploring the Innu
The film opens the doors to the Innu Indian reserve in Sept-Îles. The Innu are an indigenous Canadian people. In 2016, there were less than 28,000. Kuessipan raises many questions about them. The system of Indian reserves, the resources located on their territory, federal rights, the perpetuation of traditions, the survival of the people… All these themes are addressed by the scenario which takes care to show us to what extent this affects them each time. day in their daily and personal life.
The culture of the Innu and their way of life is a big part of the friendship between Mikuan and Shaniss. One would like to be able to breathe another air, enrich herself with other places and other people while the other applies to reproduce what she knows until she gets lost there too. These are about values as strong as a friendship like theirs can fail.
Mikuan’s love affair with Francis, a young white man, also carries some interesting springs. While they live in the same city, they do not share the same universe. Mikuan wants to bring Francis into his Innu world, but he has the impression that his world does not want him. She also uses him as a springboard to get out of the reserve, almost without consulting him. This story arc is much more relevant than a simple love interest in a film about young adults. This is where the junction of two worlds that look at each other takes place.
Kuessipan, a film full of talents
The roles of the two friends are played by non-professional Innu actresses. Sharon Fontaine-Ishpatao, who plays Mikuan, and Yamie Grégoire for Shaniss, shine in front of the camera. Their authenticity is beyond doubt. Director Myriam Verreault explains in a press release that she wanted to find ” people whose lives and personalities matched the characters as closely as possible ”.
“Sharon Fontaine-Ishpatao was chosen because she is Mikuan, says the director. The audition consisted of a two hour conversation where we talked about his life. I couldn’t believe it, but I felt like I was talking to my character. ” The same goes for Yamie Grégoire: “ She was Shaniss at heart and it was this truth that interested me and that I wanted to stage ”.
Kuessipan transports us straight to the North Shore of Quebec (with the air conditioning at the bottom of the movie theaters we really believe it) for a trip to the shores of the St. Lawrence River. The poetry of texts and images grabs us and makes us want to stay in their company. And as a bonus, we have the right to the humor of Quebecers and their accent: it’s always the opportunity to learn new flowery expressions!
Read also : Help, I can’t blame my best friend’s guy!