Downbeat but artfully made, Polish-produced docu “Gugara” recounts how a community of Evenks, an indigenous people in deepest Siberia, are slowly — and almost literally — dying on their feet. Co-helmed by newcomers Andrzej Dybczak and Jacek Naglowski, the film builds a collage of poor and depressed subjects whose traditional way of life has all but disappeared. Further fest play looks possible, followed by airings on upmarket cablers.
Based around the tiny village of Tutonchany, the story follows various folk, including the Hukachar family, which has for years lived in tents out on the tundra harvesting reindeer but is finding that way of life unsustainable as herds dwindle. One son, Kola, has become a P.E. teacher in town. In another family, the daughter has become a born-again Christian, while her elderly father wastes away from drink. Helmers add irony by showing their subjects watching romanticized TV coverage of Evenk life that just doesn’t square with reality. Use of sound and silence is creative, and reflects the fact that, though pic’s title means “the sound of reindeer bells,” that noise is sadly absent here.