Many small-town teens dream of moving to the big city, but few experience as profound an isolation as 16-year-old Lars. Living in the remote Inuit settlement of Niaqornat in northern Greenland, peers are few and options limited. “We don’t have internet cafes, hotels or restaurants,” he explains. “We only have the shop” – a small convenience store serving the settlement’s 59 residents, and one of the few employers left in a village facing an uncertain future due to its ever-dwindling population.
Filmed over an 18-month period, director Sarah Gavron focuses in on a handful of those who remain, piecing together an absorbing documentary portrait of everyday life in an extreme environment. The community’s attempts to kickstart their prospects by purchasing an abandoned fish factory provide a kind of overarching narrative, but it’s the vignettes proffered along the way – from whale butchery to springtime celebrations – that make Gavron’s film so fascinating. Beautifully-shot and purposely unsentimental, Village… is an insightful study of lives in transition. [Chris Buckle]