Village at the End of the World
Sarah Gavron has crafted a beautiful, austere and highly memorable documentary about the cycles of life in Niaqornat—a remote coastal village in northwest Greenland. Alarmingly, the community’s population is dropping faster than the temperature. The remaining 59 predominantly Inuit citizens are on thin ice, with their traditions jeopardized by climate change, financial hardship and the influence of the outside world.
While familiarizing us with Niaqornat’s distinct routines (including a rather unforgettable mode of waste disposal), Gavron’s camera constantly returns to Lars—the only teenager remaining in this outpost. Arguably the most isolated adolescent on the globe, he has no interest in his people’s hunting traditions or their efforts to reopen a local fish factory. Instead of being enchanted by his village’s brightly coloured houses, he gazes longingly at grimy Manhattan streets via Google Earth. And as Lars dreams only of escape, everyone around him desperately attempts to adapt to survive.
“It becomes clear just how empathetic and free of condescension Gavron’s film is during a striking episode when a group of cruising tourists turn up to sample the native culture. Aging, upright Danes waffle on about how they hope things will never change, while we’re party to the locals quickly pulling on their ‘traditional’ dress and dusting down fur fripperies to sell their visitors. Eye-opening and thoughtful.”—Dave Calhoun, Time Out