We neither understand his fist bump infused handshake greetings, nor find his turban adorned dress familiar. We see his camels. We see the women with the goats. We are in Niger and it feels entirely unfamiliar, until this man, a member of the remote Taurag people, comments that the world is constantly changing direction.
How prescient a house-locked viewer in pandemic times finds his words!
He is the first protagonist we meet in the two-part series Elsewhere, and his observation on the ever changing world has to do with explaining his heartfelt longing for a garden, seeing that as the way to move his situation forward.
Director Nikolaus Geyrhalte brings a 12-part buffet that will likely thrill all who, like this writer, love to travel in hopes of discovering the new. In a two-part series, we travel from one remote outpost to the next. Touches of modernity are light in these areas and often take on the dimensions of oversized dramatic objects for the people captured by the film and us too, the captives of this film’s deep charm. It’s the snow mobile in remote Finland that carries a reindeer herdsman, whose recent forebears had no such luxury. In Greenland the women left behind long for their hunter men to get cellphones so that they can keep in touch. And for this writer, perhaps the most poignant drama of old ways meeting new, is when a Russian reindeer herdsman is calling for the helicopter from the oil company that planted on his land. He needs to call in this chit, so he can relocate his family—as the environment is so poisoned that the fish and flocks they used to rely on are fading.
ELSEWHERE Paints Exterior and Interior Landscapes
We are in edges of the planet few of us knew before. They are not tourist attractions. The cinematography cannot help but astound, in this writer’s view. Yet, it is the internal landscape of the protagonists, and how they are making sense of modernity coming to crowd them out, that many will likely find even more breathtaking, as this writer does.
A young Micronesian woman, a teacher, wearing her topless traditional garb, teaches children in a primitive schoolroom with what strikes as bottomless patience. She later shares with us her anger at the every other year Christmas air drop from the Red Cross in Guam. It is throw away garbage clothing that nobody wanted, and not a gift. We want to cringe.
Soft spoken Aboriginal women in remote Australia share their worldview and a recurring reference point of respecting elders emerges. You too may wonder how and when that gentle frame of mind was lost worldwide.
An angry First Nation man outside Vancouver reports on how the government gave their land back to them, only after killing the forests beyond repair, leaving a place where the birds don’t want to land or nest. One of his townsmen shares that he is now 50 years old, which means he can understand his native tongue a bit but not speak it, as it was literally beaten out of his generation at school.
And then two men in Greenland share chuckles and lust for Brigit Bardot, whom they credit with giving them a great day of hunting if they dream of her the night before.
Oozing humanity, ELSEWHERE is a top pick for anyone interested in understanding how culture and modernity ever interact in new ways.
Images courtesy of OVID.tv
About the Author:
Amy Munice is Editor-in-Chief and Co-Publisher of Picture This Post. She covers books, dance, film, theater, music, museums and travel. Prior to founding Picture This Post, Amy was a freelance writer and global PR specialist for decades—writing and ghostwriting thousands of articles and promotional communications on a wide range of technical and not-so-technical topics.
Amy hopes the magazine’s click-a-picture-to-read-a-vivid-account format will nourish those ever hunting for under-discovered cultural treasures. She especially loves writing articles about travel finds, showcasing works by cultural warriors of a progressive bent, and shining a light on bold, creative strokes by fledgling artists in all genres.