*** I was looking for something to watch last night and saw this was now available on Amazon Prime (US, anyway) so I”m bumping this post. The Secret Scripture (also a TIFF 2016 film) is available but it’s a less interesting film.***
My second film of the festival turned out to be one of my favorites. About a topic I knew almost nothing about before watching the film, it was beautifully shot with a wonderful and interesting story. It’s the kind of film I would likely never run across if I didn’t attend film festivals and would love to see get a wider distribution.
Amanda Kernell’s powerful feature debut Sámi Blood explores the Scandinavian variant of a shameful practice employed by self-proclaimed “civilized” (i.e., white) nations around the world in the 19th and 20th centuries: the systematic removal of Indigenous children from their parents, homes, and traditional lifestyles and forced integration into an educational system that taught them that their customs and lifestyles were inferior at best.
Kernell’s heroine Elle Marja (Lene Cecilia Sparrok) is a teenage Sámi girl in the 1930s who is sent to a boarding school that is intended to raise its Indigenous charges to a level “acceptable” to the rest of Swedish society.
Here’s a video from a TIFF Q&A (not from the showing I attended) which is part of what makes seeing films at the festival special and really speaks to where the film came from. Hopefully someday you’ll get to see it.
[Director] Amanda Kernell was born in Umeå, in the far north of Sweden, to a Swedish mother and Sámi father.