Director: Myriam Verreault
Featuring: Sharon Fontaine-Ishpatao, Yamie Grégoire, Étienne Galloy
Language: French, Innu both subtitled in English
Runtime: 117 minutes
Adapted from Naomi Fontaine’s award-winning novel by the writer and director Myriam Verreault, this moving drama tells the stories of two young Innu women whose close bond is affected by their diverging life paths. While the sensitive and artistic nature of Mikuan (Sharon Fontaine-Ishpatao) leads her in one direction, the personal troubles of her best friend Shaniss (Yamie Grégoire) threaten to trap her in cycles that are all too pervasive in northern communities like theirs. A top prizewinner at the Quebec City film festival, KUESSIPAN marks a compelling shift into feature filmmaking by Verreault after several documentaries that share her new movie’s keen sympathy for the lives of young people.
Myriam Verreault grew up in the suburbs of Quebec City. After studying journalism, history and cinema, she gravitated in the world of television and cinema as a prop, director and editor. She became known with West of Pluto in 2009, a critically acclaimed debut feature that has made its way to more than 50 festivals around the world. She co-directed, scripted, produced and edited it. In 2011, she signed the NFB web documentary Ma tribu c’est ma vie which put her in contact, among other things, with the reality of a young man from Mani-Utenam. In 2014, she edited Québékoisie by Mélanie Carrier and Olivier Higgins, a documentary nominated at the Gala des Jutra and dealing with relations between Quebecers and Aboriginals. She began Kuessipan’s research and scriptwriting work in 2012 with the writer of the eponymous novel, Naomi Fontaine. She worked there for 5 years before shooting it, multiplying immersion trips in the Innu community. The film had its world premiere at TIFF in September 2019. It has won several awards and mentions at international festivals, including twice the prize for the best Canadian film. Myriam is currently the director of the 5th row TV series, broadcast on ICI Radio-Canada.