The 2017 Volvo Scandinavian Film Festival got under way last night at the Cinema Paradiso with the preview screening of Sami Blood, written and directed by Amanda Kernell.
Sami Blood (originally titled Sameblod) explores the systemic discrimination and oppression of the indigenous Sami people of Sweden, in the 1930s. Elle-Marja, a 14 year-old reindeer herder, is sent to a boarding school that enforces Swedish culture and language, whilst restricting opportunities for integration and further education. Elle-Marja, who begins to reject her own heritage, becomes trapped between both cultures, shunned by the Sami but not accepted by her Swedish acquaintances.
Sami Blood reveals a rarely depicted context, shining a new light on an old tale of systemic oppression and casual cultural racism. The pace may drag in some parts for certain audiences, but overall has an engaging plot. The film features a beautiful and expressive debut performance from Lene Cecilia Sparrok (a real-life reindeer herder), acting alongside her real-life sister Mia Erika Sparrok. The film’s beautifully shot close-ups make it uncomfortably close to the heart, generating the amount of empathy and emotion expected from this kind of quiet drama. There are also some moments of dry humour, making the film all that more real and distressing.
Sami Blood is a poignant and touching coming-of-age tale, about reconciling differences and discovering one’s identity in the face of rejection and oppression. I rate this film 8/10.
The 2017 Volvo Scandinavian Film Festival is running from July 20 until August 2. Click here to find out more.