Happy People: A Year in the Taiga

“If you want a taste of life as it must have been for the Voyageurs of old, this documentary is a good place to start. It records the cycle of seasons in Bakhtia, Siberia, a remote village of 300 accessible only by helicopter or boat. The settlers trap sable and fish for pike without access to phones, running water or modern medicine. They even blacksmith their own tools.
“Director Dmitry Vasyukov gives the region’s endless snowscapes a painterly, heroic beauty. The ingenuity with which the locals set traps, create dugout canoes and hew their own skis is thrilling.
“The title is in no sense ironic. Vasyukov admires these independent spirits. While veteran director Werner Herzog ‘co-directed,’ providing editing advice and a voice-over narration, there’s a difference in perspective from most Herzog travelogues, which are entertainingly disdainful. Here there’s no chilly anthropological tone. The film looks up to its subjects, not down upon them. You will too.”
- Colin Colvert, Minneapolis Star-Tribune

Happy People: A Year in the Taiga

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