Being the only teenager in a village of 58 sounds mundane enough, but imagine being the only teenager in a village of 58 in one of the most remote places on earth. That’s exactly what life is like for Lars who lies in Niaqornat, north-west Greenland, a place where the dog population out numbers the humans by 10 to 1 and the school only has 8 pupils.
Filmed by Sarah Gavron, this eye opening documentary shows you what life is like in literally the middle of nowhere in a place that she describes as being “surreal and lunar”. It follows the villagers fight to reopen their precious halibut factory, led by Karl the head of the village, as fish a vital commodity in most arctic regions and without it they would have no work or income.
What’s also fascinating to see is that technology is affecting life in even the most far flung places, the children carry around mobile phones and log into Facebook and there is also cases of online dating; Ilannguaq moved to Niaqornat from south Greenland after finding love online and now empties the villages toilets as there is no running water here.
This village is so isolated, it heavily relies on supplies being brought by freighters and its minimal tourism and Lars’s grandma remembers a time where there was no electricity at all, only lamps run by burning whale blubber, it’s a very bleak and depressing place with not much prosperity for the young inhabitants as Lars plans his move into the bigger cities in Greenland (which can’t be that big as the total population of the country is just over 56,000).
The narrative and cinematography are excellent, I admire the true dedication from Sarah and her husband David who filmed the documentary for travelling there 5 times over 18 months to perfectly capture the Greenlandic way of life to people who would never have even imagined these kinds of places exist.
The Village at the End of the World is a beautiful documentary showing an insight into a place we wouldn’t even think about and how life is in a place so cold 80% of the country is covered in an ice sheet and no vegetation grows, it makes you stop for a moment and think about what we take for granted in our everyday lives. The beauty of the documentary comes from its ability to show how the modern world is affecting remote places such as Niaqornat and the struggles that come with a population decline when life relies on the community coming together and helping each other out.
As charming as the landscape is, the real struggles of the people are translated so perfectly onto the screen that you end up feeling as melancholic and frustrated as the people you’re watching.
What’s left for a place so isolated and desolate, dwindling on the brink of extinction?
Words by Olivia Walsh