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Film Spotted Dog Running at the Edge of the Sea

On a frozen and forbidding shoreline of northern Sakhalin Island, to the north of Japan, live the Nyvkh people, whose austere, heroic struggle for survival depends solely on their ability to hunt the seal and to fish. This blunt glimpse into their quarters, animistic rituals, and daily (and nightly) lives has all the appearance of a well-shot documentary but is in fact a scripted film with convincing special effects, based on a novella of the same title by the gifted and controversial Soviet Kirghiz writer, Chingiz Aitmatov. "Dog running at the edge of the sea" is what the Nyvkhs call the forbidding place they have domesticated as their home, husbanding and speaking of it by means of myths and "poetry of the concrete" with which they commemorate their savage lives. --Ronald Levaco

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