This month celebrates Indigenous communities and their cultures. But, when it comes to representing Indigenous people in media, we fall short. This is because Indigenous peoples' stories are often told through the white gaze, and not by their people. When we think of authentic Indigenous films, there’s not much to think of apart from the Native American-led films in the 90s. Most of these films that featured Native Americans were either westerns, documentaries, or coming-of-age. There wasn’t much expansion of Indigenous peoples in other popular genres until now. I introduce to you, Slash/Back (2022), an Inuit sci-fi horror that is centered on four Inuit girls hunting alien monsters, and ultimately saving their village, Pangnirtung “Pang” from an alien invasion. Directed by Nyla Innuksuk, who is an Inuk herself, this film not only represents Inuit girls but girlhood altogether. The emphasis on girlhood such as friendship, sisterhood, and girl power in Slash/Back makes it relatable for Inuit girls and non-indigenous girls.
***WARNING: Spoilers Ahead***
Before we dive into the film, you need to know about our characters: Maika, Uki, Jesse, and Lee Lee. Every friend group has friend group archetypes, so that’s how we’ll introduce our characters. First, we have Maika, she’s the leader of the group. Her father is known to be the best hunter in Pang; in the opening scene, we see a young Maika learning how to hunt with her father, by showing her how to use a rifle. And, what separates Maika apart from the other girls is her inability to accept her Inuit heritage. Second, is Uki, who’s known to be the rebel of the group. She never backs down from a fight or dare, which leads her to discover that the strange behavior of the animals is the reason people are going missing in Pang. Uki is also the believer of the group, she originally thought the creatures that were inhabiting the animals were Ijiraq (Inuit mythology) but realizes they're “aliens pretending not to be aliens” in order to suck blood from living hosts to “fuel” it for their spaceship. Then, there’s Jesse. Jesse is the mom of the group; the calm and collected one. She attempts to stay neutral whenever the girls are arguing (Maika and Uki). The last friend of the group is Lee Lee. Lee Lee is more privileged than the rest of the girls. Most of the community lives in less-developed homes, whereas, Lee Lee’s family lives in a more modern home. Another example, where we see Lee Lee as privileged, is when Maika asks how much data she has on her phone; her response is: “I don’t know, my parents pay for it”. Additionally, we have Aju, who is an unofficial member of the group. Aju is Maika’s little sister, she always tags along with the girls but is often left behind because she’s the youngest of them. And for that reason, Aju is the Drew Barrymore of the group because Aju reminds me of Gertie from E.T. (1982).