Sarah Gavron’s documentary ‘Village at the End of the World‘ takes its audience on a journey to Niaqornat, a remote settlement in North West Greenland. With a population of 59 at the time of filming (and reportedly down to 35 in 2020), the community relies on every resident, and every birth, death and departure is felt by the whole population. With months of complete darkness, freezing seas in winter, dire temperature drops and a real dependence on the village’s hunters to bring back fish, polar bear or whale, life in Niaqornat is a continuous struggle against the elements. However, the hamlet is filled with quirky characters who are quick to tell a joke, proud to show their culture, and who embrace both the modern and traditional aspects of their lives: Gavron lets the residents speak for themselves, giving the audience a rare experience: the opportunity to truly listen. The documentary observes Niaqornat at time of high tension, with the village being at the brink of extinction: if the population were to drop below 50, then the residents risked to be forced to move. The closure of the village’s only income, the fish factory, already forced some to relocate to find work: among other key characters, the documentary follows Karl, the village hunter who is battling to reopen the fish factory to keep the village alive. One of the greatest aspects of the documentary is its authentic and respectful tone, creating a genuine connection between the characters and the viewer. Gavron was able to completely embrace the culture and viewpoints of the people of Niaqornat: she lived in the village over the course of a year, and was accepted into the close-knit community, allowing her to see the village from the inside out, touching vexed topics such as global warming, whaling, Greenland’s high suicide rate and the Royal Greenland‘s push to move village residents into towns. Visually stunning, emotively engaging and intellectually stimulating, ‘Village at the End of the World’ is a fantastic cultural exploration of life in Greenland.
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