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ELSEWHERE (director/writer: Nikolaus Geyrhalter; screenwriters: Silvia Burner/Michael Kitzberger/Wolfgang Widerhofer; cinematographer: Nikolaus Geyrhalter; editor: Wolfgang Widerhofer; cast: Mohamed Bada, Abardagh Kalka, Boula Kalka, Hans Kitti, Kapyarukoro Tjambiru, Tuaendoveni Tjiundiro, Mukaauatavi Hepute, Nate Handuwop Dambol, Daula Dambol Nambul, Asiajuk Sadorana, Benigne Sadorana, Otto Simigak , Margaret Guymala, Travis Milmarapuy , Tsewang Dolma, Josif Nikitovich Kechimov, Svetlana Nikitovna Kechimova, Vladimir Josifovich Kechimov, Gao ru qi du, Dai shi yong zuo, Luigi Garau, Gaetano Garau, Dennis Nyce, Stephen Nyce, Lavinia Legasugram, Francisco Mairal. (Tamashek, Sami, Ojihimba, Korowai, Kalaallisut, Kunwinjku, Ladakhi, Khanty, Moso, Sardinian, Nisga’a, Faliasch; Runtime: 240; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Nikolaus Geyrhalter; Icarus Films; 2001-in many languages, with English subtitles)
It follows in the rich documentary tradition of Robert Flaherty’s Nanook of the North (1925).

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Austrian filmmaker Nikolaus Geyrhalter (“Our Daily Bread”) scans the world’s remote places to visit 12 spots in 2000, one every month, as he uses his HD camera to have his subjects look directly at the camera to tell in their own words their own story while the camera checks out their region. Geyrhalter does it in around 15-minute segments each, as he presents rarely seen aspects of mankind’s struggle with nature for survival while facingmodern global politics. Elsewhere looked like a different world than the one I’m familiar with. It follows in the rich documentary tradition of Robert Flaherty’s Nanook of the North (1925).

It opens in January 2000 in rural Ekeschi, Ayr, in Niger, in the Sahara Desert, where Tuareg tribesman, who live in the bush as camel breeders, tell about how difficult it has become in recent times to survive in the dying desert bush country. It closes in December, on a visit to the Falalap, Woleai Atoll in Micronesia, where we witness a bare-chested woman teacher at ease as she works with her elementary school classs and we also view locals complaining about such things as the Red Cross “Christmas Drop” bringing them trash–unneeded second-hand clothes and other junk, rather than anything practical. In between we visit other resilient proud people who remain mostly unaffected by the modern way, such as a reindeer herder in the tundra, in the northern most part of Finland, near the Norwegian border, who leads a contented but lonely life as he drives a snowmobile in the tundra of Samiland to take care of his precious reindeer; an elderly Sardinian fisherman carping about it being harder to fish these days but can’t see being anything but a fisherman; and the Inuit natives of Thule, Greenland, complaining their livelihood has been taking away by protesters from Greenpeace and the protest by animal lover Brigitte Bardot, who want an end to the slaughter of seals, especially baby seals, a practice they have since stopped, but their government nevertheless has put too many restrictions on them for it to be a profitable venture anymore.

At four hours, it’s a long journey that gets tiring. But when you have time to relax afterwards–the journey told from the POV of those who lead a life they inherited from their traditional ancestors and choose not to be interested in the modern lifestyle, its culture and commercialism, turns out to be an informative, entertaining and worthwhile movie. The film won the IDFA Special Jury Award for documentaries.

REVIEWED ON 12/28/2010 GRADE: B+

Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”