What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Happy People: A Year in the Taiga -- a documentary assembled (though not filmed) by German director Werner Herzog -- captures a year in the life of the hunter-trappers who live and work in the wilderness region around Siberia. There's some violence related to hunting, with animals harmed and/or killed. In one sequence, a dog chases and bites a small animal. The movie briefly discusses the fact that many of the residents of this area have a drinking problem; some drinking is shown, as is cigarette smoking. The word "bitch" is used a few times, but only in reference to female dogs. These issues aside, Happy People is fascinating, informative, and sometimes touching, even showing what life might be like without media and cell phones. It should be fine for younger teens and older tweens.
  • Families can talk about the concept of hunting. How violent is this act as depicted in the movie? What's the difference between hunting for sport and hunting for a living?
  • How does Happy People address drinking? Which interview subjects appear to be drinkers? What do you think might cause people in this region and lifestyle to start drinking?
  • If you lived in this area, what would you miss about your life as it is now? If you had been born there, how much do you think you would miss?
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