Panorama | Youth | Contemporary World Cinema
While Ruben Östlund’s The Square (screening at VIFF!) looks to be the Swedish film of this year, that honor belonged to Swedish-Sami writer-director Amanda Kernell’s Sami Blood last year. The calendar may have turned but Kernell’s film continues to win admirers (and awards) on the festival circuit.
Inspired by stories from her grandmother and extensive interviews with elders from the Sami community, her poignant debut feature sheds light on Sweden’s colonial oppression of the indigenous Sami folk in the 1930s through the coming-of-age tale of a reindeer-herding Sami girl who breaks free from her family and culture.
When strong-willed but sensitive 14-year-old Elle Marja encounters race biology examinations at her boarding school and racism from the local Swedes, she starts dreaming of another life. To achieve that dream, she flees to the big city and renounces all aspects of her heritage, from her traditional clothing and special knife to her mother tongue. Part of the film is in the Southern Sami language, which is now only spoken by some 500 people.
"This stirring but pleasingly unsentimental tale has all the makings of a festival crowd-pleaser, and introduces a poised, intelligent young talent in star Lene Cecilia Sparrok."—Guy Lodge, Variety
Grand Jury Prize, Best Actress, Seattle 17; Special Jury Prize, Best Actress, Tokyo 17; Best Director of a Debut Film, Venice 16