Sámi Blod | Sami Blood (2016| Venice Film Festival

September 1st, 2016
Author: Meredith Taylor

Writer| Dir. Amanda Kernell

Cast: Lene Cecilia Sparrok, Mia Erika Sparrok, Maj Doris Rimpi, Julius Fleischandrl, Olle Sarri, Hanna Alström, Malin Crépin, Andreas Kundler, Ylva Gustafsson

110min | Sweden/Denmark/Norway.

Amanda Kernell brings her Sámi heritage to this impressive feature debut, a fresh and painterly portrait of Sweden’s little known history of racism and colonial domination, set during the 1930s and seen through the eyes of a fiercely precocious teenager who is determined to make a future for herself away from the Lapp reindeer-herding community of her childhood.

Kernell’s masterly command of framing, cinematography, script and tone is laudable and her ability to evoke powerful emotions through her central characters sets her out as a real talent  in the making. SAME BLOOD also raises the profile of the Sami community and their fight for a future which very much connects to a global narrative of survival for small communities all over the world.

The girl in question, Ella Marja is played by newcomer Lene Cecilia Sparrok as a young teen, and Maj Doris Rimpi as an elderly woman (based on the director’s own grandmother) who we first meet in the opening scenes where she has renounced her rheindeer hearding community, an event which sparks off her memories of the past which unspool gradually forming the central narrative. From the beginning Ella Marja is different from her school friends who are all happy to wear the Sami national dress in their local school.

After humiliation during a visit from Swedish scientists when she is forced to strip naked for the collection of genetic data she runs home and is set upon by a group of local Lapp louts. Deciding to call herself Christina, she then runs away to Uppsala where she reconnects with a wealthy Swedish boy she danced with at a party. The two develop a chemistry of sorts and she later turns up at his home in the mistaken belief that Swedish hospitality is as welcoming as that of her native culture. But his parents are clearly suspicious of his intentions and urge him to get rid of her, fearing she may get pregnant or become dependent on him. After attempting to join an expensive local boarding school, she finds her way back to his birthday party one night, and is cajoled into singing a traditional Sami yodelling song, as they look on condescendingly as if she if some circus clown.

Kernell makes great use of the magnificent skyscapes of Lapland and the elegance of Uppsala’s buildings and ‘beautiful people’ with impeccable attention to period detail, sumptuous fashions and glorious Scandinavian interiors . SAME BLOOD is one of the gems of the festival so far. MT




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