Restless River


Restless River

Marie-Hélène Cousineau and Madeline Ivalu | Canada | 2019 | 99 min | English, French and Inuktitut

Kuujjuaq, 1940s. Surprised at the loss her innocence, the young Inuk Elsa draws courage from her rugged land to become a woman as strong and independent as the restless river that cuts across it. She becomes the very young mother of a child whose remarkable life breaks with the millennial traditions of her ancestors. Navigating the social norms of the colonizers and the reality of her own family situation, the dreariness of a relationship that is not right for her and the rebellion of her teenage son, Elsa’s path follows the winding course of the indominable river that accompanies her every turn in life.

MARIE-HÉLÈNE COUSINEAU is a filmmaker and video artist. In 1991 she moved to Igloolik, Nunavut, and helped establish the Tarriaksuk Video Centre, the first artist-run video and film centre in the Canadian Arctic. There she met Madeline Ivalu, a unilingual Inuit elder, storyteller and seamstress. The two of them, along with Susan Avingaq, founded the women’s film collective Arnait Video Productions, with the goal of producing independent video and film from the perspective of Inuit women. First and foremost concerned with serving the cultural needs of Inuit and the community of Igloolik, the national and international success of their films comes from the universality of their themes and their deeply empathetic portrayals of strong female characters. Cousineau and Ivalu’s collaboration has led to the production of over 25 films, documentaries, television series’ and video explorations. Notable works include Before Tomorrow, Uvanga, SOL. More recently, Cousineau co-directed the feature film Angélique Isle, as well as produced the children’s feature Tia and Piujuq. Cousineau was also instrumental in the development of the Nunavut Film Commission. Restless River is her latest feature.


MADELINE IVALU has been a key elder participant in all Arnait productions since 1991. She is well known in Nunavut as a storyteller, musician, actress and writer. She often represents Inuit women in international events though different cultural organizations like Paukktutit and the Pan-Canadian Inuit Women’s organization. She co-directed Before Tomorrow as well as Uvanga, the first and second Arnait feature-length films, with Marie-Hélène Cousineau. They were honoured with the Birks Diamond Tribute to the Year’s Women in Film at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2015. Madeline lives in Igloolik, Nunavut.

Screening Online for 24 hours, starting at 7:00pm Wednesday Sept. 16.