Panorama | Contemporary World Cinema
Nanook (Mikhail Aprosimov) and his wife Sedna (Feodosia Ivanova) are Inuits ("Yakuts") living in almost complete isolation in Siberia. Aga (Galina Tikhonova) is their daughter, who has left the family to find work in a diamond mine in a far-off town. Nanook has never forgiven her for an earlier transgression, but Sedna is now gravely ill and yearns for the two to reconcile.
Shot in the coldest reaches of the North (the Russian Republic of Sakha), the film is a paean to the beauty of icy vistas, vast horizons, and an ancient life of elemental solitude. Yet even here the realities of climate change are encroaching in ways that can seem superficial (chemtrails staining the sky) or devastating (the gradual depletion of the native reindeer stock which has always sustained the Yakut lifestyle). There is little interaction with the outside world, but the spare, ruminative script provides enough morsels to allow us to care about these characters, both as individuals and as emblems for a dying branch of humanity, while the majestic camerawork by Kaloyan Bozhilov sears this breathtaking, timeless place into the mind’s eye. A late dose of Mahler’s 5th Symphony is the icing on the artistic cake. Fans of Atanarjuat take note: this will be right up your alley.
"An exquisitely shot and very moving film."—Demetrious Matheou, Screen