An observational documentary centred on a place, a family and an environmental issue.



For the most part Clémént Cogitore is a French filmmaker who favours short works and, more often than not, documentaries. Here he gives us a short feature, 49 minutes in length, which was shot in the Siberian taiga and studies one family who have lived in this remote region for some forty years. These people are the Braguines and it is their patriarch, Sacha, who provides the greater part of the voice-over comments.


Cogitore's film is one that invites us to spend time with this family and it is very much an observational work: that applies to their life-style and to the place itself including the forest where Sacha and his oldest son hunt (activity shown in sufficient detail to cause distress to some animal lovers, especially when it comes to the shooting and cutting up of an old bear even if afterwards the Braguines are ready to offer a prayer for its soul). But, if bears can be threatening, we nevertheless hear early on the comment that humans are the most dangerous animals in the taiga. This is a pointer to the fact that the family's only neighbours - another family with a large number of children, the Kilines - are seen by Sacha as the enemy.


As the film proceeds, we find ourselves pondering the question of whether or not the Kilines are as bad as they are painted. Those who have seen the recently released Under the Tree, a black comedy from Iceland, will find that its fictional tale of hostility between neighbours growing out of all proportion will come to mind when watching Braguino ("If this continues someone will get killed" is a remark heard here that would fit perfectly into Under the Tree). However, save for scenes on the mid-river island used by the children of both families who go there to play, Cogitore shows everything from the viewpoint of the Braguines. Consequently, when a helicopter arrives seemingly indicative of the fact that the Kilines are in league with poachers eager to exploit the hunting grounds on which the Braguines depend, it seems more likely than not that Sacha's outlook is justified. If the children existed in a world akin to that of Swallows and Amazons they might be rivals able to unite, but this is real life so we are left without any sense of an ending. Instead, the situation continues unresolved. By adopting a short running time Cogitore's film does not outstay its welcome and he gives us a film that gains from the novelty of its setting while also offering a family portrait that raises issues about the future of the land. It's a small-scale work but a sound one.




Featuring  Sacha Braguine and his family.


Dir Clémént Cogitore, Pro Cédric Bonin, Pascaline Geoffroy and Kaarle Aho, Ph Sylvain Verdet, Ed Pauline Gaillard, Music Eric Bentz.


Seppia Film/Making Movies/ARTE GEIE - La Lucerne-ICA Cinema.
49 mins. France/Finland. 2017. Rel: 24 August 2018. No Cert.