Ever Deadly is an immersive, visceral music and cinema experience featuring Tanya Tagaq, avant-garde Inuit throat singer, and created in collaboration with award-winning filmmaker Chelsea McMullan. This documentary explores Tagaq’s transformation of sound with an eye to colonial fallout, natural freedom and Canadian history.
We witness Tagaq’s intimate relationship with the Nuna—the Land—a living, breathing organism present in all forms of her improvised performances. Ever Deadly weaves concert footage with stunning sequences filmed on location in Nunavut, seamlessly bridging landscapes, stories and songs with pain, anger and triumph—all through the expressions of one of the most innovative musical performers of our time.
Ever Deadly weaves concert footage with stunning sequences filmed on location in Nunavut, seamlessly bridging landscapes, stories and songs with pain, anger and triumph—all through the expressions of Tanya Tagaq, one of the most innovative musical performers of our time.
Tanya Tagaq, one of the most innovative musical performers of our time, leads the audience through pain and triumph in this visceral music and cinema experience.
Many people have approached me with a proposal to engage in making a documentary. I tend towards being camera shy (offstage), so it wasn’t until I was approached by a friend that a documentary happened. Chelsea was a friend I met through Rae Spoon. They did a documentary called My Prairie Home. I watched it on an airplane. I love Rae; it was so nice to see them onscreen and to see them being portrayed in the right way.
So we jumped into making Ever Deadly. Chelsea pushes. I pull. We got riding the same caribou and off we went! This process has been exhilarating and interesting. Bringing the crew up to Nunavut was the highlight for me. Realizing that’s how I feel in the South, in your culture. I am always cautious, not quite knowing how to behave, not having a handle on the rules. Watching the crew learn how to drive an ATV on the tundra and take in the majesty of the land gave me a sense of peace. Thank you to Chelsea and the crew for taking the time to film.
The concert—now in COVID times I drool and giggle and writhe in joy with the memory of the moments when the music took control and gave me freedom. We will have that again soon, but for now, enjoy the screen. Enjoy this concert footage interspersed with my family history, Canadian history, and our present and presence.
The first time I saw Tanya Tagaq perform, my mind was fully blown. When she walks out onto the stage, she gives you an experience. She fuses with her band to build this electric, seismic, psychedelic improvised trip that blasts through the walls of the auditorium, tearing time and space apart before pulling you deep down into the pit of your soul. I felt awestruck by the power of her art. I was a little bit obsessed; it was such a multi-sensory event, I immediately wanted to know how she thought about cinema.
Recently, I revisited some notes I’d taken in our very first discussions about making a film together, and Tanya already had a crystal-clear idea of what the film was going to be. She told me it needs to have a lot of blood, and we talked about the towering ice flows of her childhood memories. She wanted exploding muskox in it. Literally one of the very first things she told me was that we had to interview her Mom about the government relocation and it had to be in her language. Non-negotiable. It took us five years to really delve into everything we needed to and get all the pieces necessary, but almost everything she saw in the beginning is in there. She had the vision, and I really felt like my job within the context of the film was to try to bring all of her ideas and the imagery she was describing to the screen. Improvisation was the guiding principle throughout, from the way we approached capturing the concert as one single improvised shot, to Shuvinai Ashoona improvising drawings based on Tanya’s words, which we turned into animations, to our process of live editing the film to ensure we were led by intuition.
Having the opportunity to participate in channeling Tanya’s art, voice and life into film has been the greatest creative endeavour of my life. Ever Deadly is meant to be an experience, to flood over you and take you on a journey guided by a live performance for the ages. In the process we touch on many parts of who Tanya is—the unparalleled musical talent, the bold voice speaking truth to power, the poet and philosopher reaching deep into herself, how fiercely she loves her family and how relentlessly she fights. Immerse yourself, let it carry you away, but don’t for a second think the cinematic frame could ever hope to contain Tanya Tagaq. Not a chance.
Written and Directed by
Director of Photography
Avrïl Jacobson, CCE
Original Illustrations by
Animation by Astroplastique
Glenn Gear Fred Casia Parissa Mohit
Laakkuluk Williamson Bathory
Original Music Composed by
Laakkuluk Williamson Bathory
Catherine Lutes CSC
Senior Production Coordinator
Jessica Lozano Castro
Kevin Riley Luc Binette
Leslie Anne Poyntz
Manager Studio Operations
Varunraj Gandhi Kevin Shak
William Mitchell Cassidy Croft
Cello Jeffrey Samuel Zeigler
Synthesizer Ashkan Kooshanejad
Violin Jesse Zubot
Drums Jean Martin
Performance response to Tanya Tagaq by
Santee Smith / Tekaronhiáhkhwa
The Element Choir
Christine Duncan – Choir Leader
Jenna Marie Pinard
Jill Stella Richards
Wendelin Lisbeth Bartley
Lieke Van Der Voort
Director of Photography, Concert
Maya Bankovic CSC
Gabriela Osio Vanden
1st Assistant Camera
Christopher James Andrew Reilly
2nd Assistant Camera
Carl David Tribe
2nd Sound Recordist
Six Shooter Records
Helen Britton President and CEO, Artist Management
Shauna de Cartier President and CEO, Record Label
Vanessa Kuzina Director, Artist Management
Emily Smart Vice-President, Marketing and Publicity
Concert Event Management – Plan V Productions
Nicole Zimmer Braden Labonte
Katheryn Marie Harrison
Hair & Make-Up
Tami El Sombati
Sebastian Pardo, MEMORY Studio
Archival and Visual Researchers
Location Manager – Cambridge Bay
Laakkuluk Williamson Bathory
Sound Facility – FORMOSA
Sound Designer Jane Tattersall
Dialogue Editor Krystin Hunter
Re-Recording Mixer Graham Rogers
Assist. Re-Recording Mixer Will Stephens
Post-Production Services – REDLAB
Account Manager Mark Stevens
Colourist Walt Biljan
Online Editor Cory Johnson
Project Manager Lubin J. Martinez
Live Concert Music Consultant
Additional Choir Recording
Revolution Recording Inc
All songs performed by Tanya Tagaq
Courtesy of Six Shooter Records
Excerpts from SPLIT TOOTH by Tanya Tagaq
Copyright © 2018 Tanya Tagaq.
Reprinted by permission of Viking Canada, a division of
Penguin Random House Canada Limited. All rights reserved.
Archival Footage Courtesy of
Dorset Fine Arts
Rogers Media Inc.
London Free Press, a division of Postmedia Network Inc
National Film Board of Canada
Paula E. Kirman
CBC Archive Sales
APTN National News
Trinity St Paul Church
© 2022 National Film Board of Canada