DVD, Digital, VOD Release: Happy People: A Year in the Taiga

DVD Release Date: April 23, 2013
Price: DVD $ 29.95
Studio: Music Box


Happy People: A Year in the Taiga movie sceneRenowned filmmaker Werner Herzog (Cave of Forgotten Dreams), in cooperation with Russian director Dmitry Vasyukov , once again journey to the far ends of the world in  the 2010 documentary film Happy People: A Year in the Taiga

The tiny village of Bakhta in Siberia, one of the most beautiful yet severe places on the planet, is home to some 300 indigenous inhabitants whose lives are virtually untouched by modernity. Located at the heart of the Siberian Taiga on the banks of the Yenisei River, Baktha has no telephones, no running water and no medical aid—it’s actually so far away from civilization that it can only be reached by helicopter or boat. In Bakhta the local population of hunters, fishermen and trappers embark on daily routines using tools, materials and methods that have barely changed over the past centuries.

Happy People: A Year in the Taiga follows the lives of the people of Bakhta through all four seasons of the year—from the winter, when the river freezes over and snows cover the sub-zero land, through the eventual thaw and flourishing of flora and fauna in the spring and summer, up to the approaching chill of autumn and the beginning of the cycle anew.

The origins of the film are nearly as fascinating as the Russian and Ket people of the Russian North that the film celebrates. In Los Angeles, a friend of Herzog’s had obtained a four hour documentary by director Vasyukov about hunters in the Siberian Taiga that had originally aired on Russian television. He screened them for Herzog, who was immediately intrigued by the material. Herzog soon contacted Vasyukov (initially via Skype) and proposed that they collaborate on adapting the film for Western audiences. The result is Happy People: A Year in the Taiga, featuring new commentary written and narrated by Herzog himself.

The film comes to DVD following screenings at a host of international films festivals and a limited rollout to U.S.  theaters in January, 2013, where it was well-received by critics, including the Village Voice which described the film as “remarkable.”

Presented in English and Russian with English subtitles and narration, the DVD of  the movie contains the following bonus features:

  • Werner Herzog Introduction
  • CHASING SPRING IN WEST SIBERIA Documentary
  • Siberia Fact Sheet
  • Theatrical trailer
  • English, Russian, and German Audio Language Tracks
  • Segment from Dmitry Vasyukov’s original film

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About Laurence

Founder and editor Laurence Lerman saw Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest when he was 13 years old and that’s all it took. He has been writing about film and video for more than a quarter of a century for magazines, anthologies, websites and most recently, Video Business magazine, where he served as the Reviews Editor for 15 years.