out of Five
Running time: 76
Sarah Gavron’s Village at the End of the World is an enjoyable and uplifting documentary that tugs on the heartstrings and impresses with its intimate portrayal of the fascinating community of Niaqornat, Northern Greenland.
What’s it all about?
Directed by Sarah Gavron, Village at the End of the World is a documentary about Niaqornat, a remote village in Northern Greenland, occupied by just 59 people and 100 sled dogs. Shot over the course of the year, the documentary focuses on four very different village personalities: 16 year old Lars, the only teenager in town and who was raised by his grandparents; his father Karl, a huntsman who refuses to acknowledge that Lars is his son, despite living just metres away; Annie, the village’s oldest inhabitant; and Ilannguaq, an outsider who moved to the town after meeting his wife online and who now makes a living from collecting the bucket toilets from every home in the village. Exploring their daily lives and routines, the documentary looks at the community’s inspiring journey to save the village from the fatal consequences of the melting ice caps and lack of monetary support from their government.
For her nonfiction debut, Sarah Gavron selects a fascinating group of people to focus on and these assorted personalities ensure a gratifying range of different viewpoints, which in turn help to present a thoroughly intimate portrait of Niaqornat’s unique community. Lars, the lonely teen who yearns to mingle with people his own age and longs for New York City on Google Maps is by far the documentary’s standout personality (although the ambitious village-newcomer Ilannguaq is also worth mentioning) and it’s truly moving to see him upgrade from an awkward village teen to a confident adult preparing for his move to the big city.
It’s also great to see the stark differences in Niaqornat’s many different climates, which are dictated by the time of year with each season bringing a startling amount of either darkness, light, ice or sunlight. Gavron presents a praiseworthy portrait of how these bold changes in conditions affect the inhabitant’s daily lives and Jonas Colstrup and Max De Wardener’s peaceful score brilliantly adapts for each visible atmospheric change.
Village at the End of the World is also beautifully shot and visually striking, thanks to David Katznelson’s gorgeous cinematography, which perfectly captures the tranquillity, simplicity and isolation of Niaqornat. The film is devoid of a narration or voiceover; however, thanks to a combination of Sarah Gavron’s tender direction and the wonderful personalities she concentrates on, this goes practically unnoticed.
An engaging and heart-warming documentary, Village at the End of the World is not to be missed thanks to its undeniable charm and Sarah Gavron’s affectionate direction. Recommended.
Village At The End Of The World (12A)