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Sami Blood (Swedish: Sameblod) is a 2016 Swedish coming-of-age[4] drama film written and directed by Amanda Kernell, as her feature film debut.[5][6] 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.[7]

Sami Blood
Poster-Sami Blood.jpg
Directed byAmanda Kernell [sv]
Produced byLars G. Lindström
Written byAmanda Kernell
StarringLene Cecilia Sparrok
Hanna Alström
Anders Berg
Music byKristian Eidnes Andersen
CinematographySophia Olsson
Petrus Sjövik
Edited byAnders Skov[1]
Release date
  • September 8, 2016 (2016-09-08) (Venice Film Festival)
  • March 3, 2017 (2017-03-03) (Sweden)
  • March 9, 2017 (2017-03-09) (Denmark)[2]
  • Sweden
  • Denmark
  • Norway[1]
South Sami[1][3]

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.[4] Parts of the story are inspired by Kernell's own grandmother.[8]

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.[9] It won the 2017 Lux Prize and was nominated for the 2017 Nordic Council Film Prize.[10]



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[11][12] (also called gapta,[11][12] gåptoe[11][12] 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.



Evolving out of a short made by Kernell that was screened at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival,[3] the film was shot partly in Tärnaby-Hemavan, in northern Sweden,[13] and partly in Uppsala and Stockholm.


On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 96%, based on 23 reviews with an average rating of 7.2/10.[14]


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.[15][16]

At the 57th Thessaloniki International Film Festival, the film won the Human Values Award.[17]

At the Tokyo International Film Festival, Sami Blood won second prize in the juried competition, and Lene Cecilia Sparrok won the best actress award.[18] Sparrok (a teenage reindeer herder in real life) gave her acceptance speech in Sami.[19]

At the Venice Film Festival, the film played in the Venice Days section and won the Fedeora Award for Best Young Director[20] and the Europa Cinemas Label (for best European film in Venice Days).[3][21]

At the Santa Barbara International Film Festival, the film won the Valhalla Award for Best Nordic Film.[8] On 14 November 2017, it won the Lux Prize.[22]


  1. ^ a b c d "Sami Blood". Toronto International Film Festival. Retrieved 26 February 2017.
  2. ^ "Sameblod kåret som Bedste Nordisk Film" (in Danish). Nordisk Film. 6 February 2017. Retrieved 16 July 2018.
  3. ^ a b c Vivarelli, Nick (14 December 2016). "Swedish-Sami Director Amanda Kernell on 'Sami Blood' and Past Racism Against Sami People in the North of Sweden". Variety. Penske Business Media.
  4. ^ a b Kernell, Amanda (31 January 2017). "Sami Blood: A coming-of-age tale set in Sweden's dark past". Sveriges Radio.
  5. ^ van Hoeij, Boyd (1 September 2016). "'Sami Blood' ('Same Blod'): Venice Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved 20 October 2016.
  6. ^ Lodge, Guy (1 September 2016). "Film Review: 'Sami Blood'". Variety. Penske Business Media. Retrieved 20 October 2016.
  7. ^ "Great Northern Mountain (2015)". IMDb. Retrieved 4 April 2017.
  8. ^ a b Mitchell, Wendy (12 February 2017). "'Sami Blood' scores more deals". Screen Daily. Screen International. Retrieved 16 July 2018.
  9. ^ Scarpa, Vittoria (9 September 2016). "The Venice Days Award goes to The War Show". CinEuropa. Creative Europe Media. Retrieved 20 October 2016.
  10. ^ Pham, Annika (22 August 2017). "Five Nordic Films Nominated for Nordic Council Film Prize 2017". Nordisk Film & TV Fond. Retrieved 16 July 2018.
  11. ^ a b c "kofte". Nedtedigibaakoeh (Norwegian-Southern Sámi dictionary) (in Norwegian). The Centre for Saami Language Technology. Retrieved 31 October 2017.
  12. ^ a b c "Om sørsamer" [About the Southern Sámi] (in Norwegian). The National Museum of Southern Sámi History and Culture. Retrieved 31 October 2017.
  13. ^ Barents_Culture (4 February 2017). "Homecoming of "Sami Blood"". Barents Culture. Retrieved 16 July 2018.
  14. ^ "Sami Blood (2017)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved 16 July 2018.
  15. ^ Simon, Alissa (4 February 2017). "'Sámi Blood' Tops 40th Goteborg Film Festival". Variety. Penske Business Media. Retrieved 16 July 2018.
  16. ^ "Here are the Dragon Award winners" (Press release). Göteborg Film Festival. 4 February 2017. Archived from the original on 23 August 2017. Retrieved 16 July 2018.
  17. ^ Grivas, Alexis (14 November 2016). "'Kills On Wheels' wins in Thessaloniki". Screen Daily. Screen International. Retrieved 16 July 2018.
  18. ^ Schilling, Mark (3 November 2016). "'Yesterday' Takes Top Prize at Tokyo Film Festival". Variety. Penske Business Media. Retrieved 16 July 2018.
  19. ^ Brasor, Philip (3 November 2016). "Holocaust comedy snares grand prize at 29th Tokyo International Film Festival". The Japan Times. Retrieved 16 July 2018.
  20. ^ "Fedeora Awards in 2016". Fedeora. Retrieved 26 February 2017.
  21. ^ "Amanda Kernell's SAMI BLOOD (Sameblod) wins Europa Cinemas Venice Label". Europa Cinemas. 9 September 2016. Archived from the original on 22 December 2017.
  22. ^ Euronews (14 November 2017). "Sámi Blood Wins LUX Award". Euronews. Retrieved 14 November 2017.

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