It would be a very juvenile person indeed who sat through the beginning of this documentary, watching people involved in a daily routine of animal care, farming and striving for some day to day luxuries, and simply thought of Borat. So, of course, I thought of Borat.
Off The Beaten Track shows us the life of teenage shepherd Albin Creta and his family, struggling more and more each year to make ends meet as the world feels a major economic pinch and traditional techniques and styles are surpassed by so many growths in the modern world.
The movie has something to say, I think, about the rewards of hard work and how those rewards are being squeezed out by others after profit, others who wield the power when it comes time for farmers to sell their livestock and goods. Yet, despite the feature only running to 87 minutes, it doesn’t have enough to say to sustain interest throughout.
Albin and his family are, for the most part, likeable and admirable people (though the second half features a lot of talk from the women who have been to work in Germany simply harping on about how much better everything is in Germany) and it’s good that their hard work and way of life has been documented but great documentaries always feature a special spark – the lightning in the bottle – that comes from design or complete chance and this just doesn’t have that.
Which means that viewers simply get to spend some time accompanying landworkers as they work the land and live from their meagre earnings. There’s nothing here that couldn’t be featured in any excellent BBC programme though the implied meaning and depth of the piece do give some food for thought.
Never dull despite not much ever really happening, Off The Beaten Track ends up sitting decidedly in the arena of the average.
Off The Beaten Track is showing at EIFF on Mon 20 June and Tues 21 June in Filmhouse 3, tickets are £9.
DIRECTOR: DIETER AUNER
STARS: ALBIN CRETA AND HIS EXTENDED FAMILY
RUNTIME: 87 MINS APPROX