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Village at the End of the World – 27/05/2013 @ The Watershed, Bristol.

May 31, 2013

Contains Spoilers!

 

My knowlege of Greenland is limited to a few of obvious facts. It’s cold, its large and there is some oil exploration. This was my chance to learn more about Greenland and its people, by watching this rather uplifting documentary about isolated rural life.

It takes place in a small town in North Greenland called Niaqornat, a place with a population of a mere 59 people. It is isolated and almost entirely sustainable, although they do rely on international food deliveries for vegetables and various western brands. Most of this humble community are adult to old age, alot of the younger residents have moved elsewhere. Their survival is dependent on their fishing industry, but because their small factory was shut down by the company due to not enough profit, the village is in danger of disintegrating. The camera follows a few of the residents and shows how they live, what they do and what they think. We have Lars, the villages only teenager who is a nice teenager who loves where he lives, but at the same time is seduced by western idealism. He sits in his room and looks at pictures of New York on the internet and has posters of Liverpool FC and various pop culture icons. He dreams of leaving the village to study, travel and find a girlfriend. We have Karl, the village huntsmen. He spends his days fishing. What I found most interesting is during the winter when the village descends into complete darkness for months, the village rely on Karl to hunt for the whole village as the sea is frozen. One memorable scene is when he hunts and kills a polar bear and a whale, something many people would be horrified by, but considering they are a small community who take what they need to survive and distribute their kill equally to all residents, no one should be quick to judge or draw any comparisons! One other memorable character is Ilanngauq, a man who moved to Niaqornat to be with a woman he met on the internet. He collects the sewage. His role is seemingly comical as he likes to comment on the collective ‘shitting’ of the village residents.

All these characters, and the segments of the whole community discussing their future take us through the highs and lows of living in such isolation. During the summer, everyone is enjoying the scenic outdoors. They generally a good standard of living with a surprising amount of western comforts. They have internet and laptops so they are not completely cut off from the world. During the winter, it becomes harder for the village to survive and everyone becomes more introverted because of the constant darkness and bitter coldness. The situation is made more bleak by their uncertain future following the closing of the factory. There is hope during their community discussions when they are planning to buy and run the factory themselves as a co-operative. I found myself really routing for these people as I do hear about too many small pockets of the world affected negatively by corporate austerity or exploration. I have admiration for these people who want run things independently as a community and to continue living sustainably.

I think the makers of the film get the balance right with the ups and downs of a community, with a touch of humour. It shows community spirit and determenation for survival and sustainability against all odds, but also shows the lonliness that is felt sometimes. What I got in conclusion was they are good, simple people who choose to live peacefully, independently and still attaining their inhereted traditional Innuit wisdom. I was only too glad that things work out for them in the end, they deserve it.

 

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From → Film Review

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