Sami Blood (Swedish: Sameblod) is a 2016 Swedish coming-of-age drama film written and directed by Amanda Kernell, as her feature film debut. The first 10 minutes of the film (and part of the end) comes directly from the short film Stoerre Vaerie (2015, dir. Amanda Kernell). Stoerre Vaerie is Kernell's first film with Sami themes and it was nominated for the Short Film Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival, Park City, Utah, USA.
|Directed by||Amanda Kernell|
|Produced by||Lars G. Lindström|
|Written by||Amanda Kernell|
|Starring||Lene Cecilia Sparrok |
|Music by||Kristian Eidnes Andersen|
|Cinematography||Sophia Olsson |
|Edited by||Anders Skov|
The film is set in Sweden in the 1930s and concerns a 14-year-old girl who experiences prejudice at a nomad school for Sami children, and decides to escape her town and disavow her Sami heritage. Parts of the story are inspired by Kernell's own grandmother.
The film premiered at the 73rd edition of the Venice Film Festival in the Venice Days section, in which it was awarded the Europa Cinemas Label Award and the Fedeora Award for Best Debut Director. It won the 2017 Lux Prize and was nominated for the 2017 Nordic Council Film Prize.
In the present day, 78-year-old Elle-Marja (who calls herself Christina, these days) returns with her son, Olle, and granddaughter Sanna, to Lapland, and her childhood society, to attend her younger sister's funeral. Elle-Marja doesn't want to be there. She does not like the Sami people, calls them thieves and liars, and even though her first language is Southern Sami, refuses to speak it and pretends to not understand it. She even refuses to spend the night at her late sister's family home and would rather check into a hotel. (This part of Sami Blood is taken directly from Stoerre Vaerie.)
In the 1930s, 14-year-old Elle-Marja is sent with her younger sister Njenna to the nomad school. It is a boarding school for Sami children where a blonde teacher from Småland teaches them Swedish, and to know their place. Speaking Sami, even just among themselves outside of the classroom, results in beatings. Her feeling of alienation is only intensified when scientists from the State Institute for Racial Biology in Uppsala came to the school to measure and photograph the class naked in the presence of each other, teachers and neighbourhood boys.
After threatening a group of boys with her father's old knife because they called her racist names and slurs, they nick the edge of her ear like the Sami people do with reindeer. She changes out of her gaeptie (also called gapta, gåptoe depending on the Southern Sámi dialect) and takes one of her teacher's dresses from a clothes line.
A group of young soldiers pass her on their way to a dance and asks her to come along—it is the first time anyone who is not Sami has treated her like a human being. Elle-Marja sneaks off to the dance, and for a couple of hours she gets to experience how it feels to have the respect others and be treated with decency by them without question. That is when she decides that she will leave Lapland, go to Uppsala, and study at the university.
School staff remove her from the dance and she is given a spanking with a switch. The school refuse her request to advance her studies in Uppsala, because the curriculum for the Sami is different from that in other Swedish schools and they feel that the Sami could not cope with urban society. She runs away to town, steals some clothes and burns her gaeptie, and invites herself to stay with Niklas, whom she met at the dance. His parents ask her to leave and he will not lend her the money she needs for her school fees, forcing her to go home. Eventually, her mother gives her the money to continue her schooling.
At the end of the film, she apologises to her dead sister for leaving her culture and people.
- Lene Cecilia Sparrok – Elle-Marja (young)
- Maj-Doris Rimpi – Elle-Marja (old)
- Mia Sparrok – Njenna
- Olle Sarri – Olle
- Anne Biret Somby – Sanna
- Hanna Alström – The Teacher
- Anders Berg – Emanuel
- Katarina Blind – Mother Anna
- Beata Cavallin – Hedda
- Malin Crépin – Elise
- Julius Fleischanderl – Niklas
- Ylva Gustafsson – Laevie
- Tom Kappfjell – Aajja
- Anna Sofie Bull Kuhmunen – Anna-Stina
- Andreas Kundler – Gustav
Evolving out of a short made by Kernell that was screened at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival, the film was shot partly in Tärnaby-Hemavan, in northern Sweden, and partly in Uppsala and Stockholm.
Sami Blood won the top prize at the 2017 Göteborg Film Festival, the Dragon Award Best Nordic Film. A prize of one million Swedish kronor (approximately US$114,000), it is one of the world's largest film prizes. In addition, Sophia Olsson won the Sven Nykvist Cinematography Award for the film.
At the Tokyo International Film Festival, Sami Blood won second prize in the juried competition, and Lene Cecilia Sparrok won the best actress award. Sparrok (a teenage reindeer herder in real life) gave her acceptance speech in Sami.
At the Venice Film Festival, the film played in the Venice Days section and won the Fedeora Award for Best Young Director and the Europa Cinemas Label (for best European film in Venice Days).
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