Sami Blood: Prime Video ~ Non-Spoiler Review

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Image shows photo montage of scenes from Sami Blood. The central photo is the theatrical poster for the movie.

🇸🇪 SAMI BLOOD 🇸🇪

SAMI BLOOD aka Sameblod (2016) is a Swedish drama, history film. Prime Video. 1 hr 48 min. 16+ Cert U.K.Subtitles.

Cast:

Lene Cecilia Sparrok as Elle-Marja (young)
Mia Erika Sparrok as Njenna
Maj-Doris Rimpi as Christina/Elle-Marja (old)
Olle Sarri as Olle
Anne Biret Somby as Sanna
Hanna Alström as Christina Lajler, teacher at the nomad school
Julius Fleischanderl as Niklas
Anders Berg as Scientist at the racial biology institute
Katarina Blind – Anna, Elle-Marja’s mother
Beata Cavallin as Hedda
Malin Crépin as Elise, Niklas’ mother
Andreas Kundler as Gustav
Ylva Gustafsson as Laevie
Anna Sofie Bull Kuhmunen as Anna-Stina
Tom Kappfjell as Aajja

Crew:

Director: Amanda Kernell
Cinematographer: Sophia Olsson & Petrus Sjövik
Writer: Amanda Kernell
Producer: Lars G. Lindström
Editor: Anders Skov

Premise:

“Elle-Marja a 14-year-old, reindeer-breeding Sámi girl who is exposed to the racism of the 1930s at her boarding school, starts dreaming of another life. But to achieve it, she has to become someone else and break all ties with her family and culture.” IMDB

Background:

The first 10 minutes of the film (and part of the end) comes directly from the short film Stoerre Vaerie. This was nominated for the Short Film Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival. Parts of the story in Sami Blood are inspired by Amanda Kernell’s own grandmother.

Review:

This is a film that stays with you! Do not, however expect an action-thriller.

Sami Blood is bookended by the now 90-year-old Elle-Marja, who returns with her son for her sister’s funeral. Between these bookends which show us how much she has erased (or at least tried to erase) her Sami, indigenous heritage and past, we follow a part of her story. At first we are, perhaps, shocked by the actions of Elle-Marja as an adult.

One of the strongest aspects of this film is that it is not approached in an overly “clever” way. Aside from the bookends the story is linear. Most often it uses show, rather than tell, and is all the better for it. The cinematography is a very strong point. The director (who also wrote this) obviously had a very clear vision of how she wanted this to look on-screen. The cinematographers did a very fine job realising this. The landscapes are stunning. The colours of the traditional costumes “ping” on the screen (unlike the other costumes).

All the performances are great throughout, with Lene Cecilia Sparrok and her real-life sister, Mia Erika, being outstanding.

That neither of the sisters in the movie is judged for the decisions they make is important for this is exactly the choice that many individual Indigenous people around the world face today.

This is, at times, a VERY uncomfortable watch. What effect did her journey have on me, as a viewer? To watch children being told they are intellectually inferior because of their race, abused, forbidden from speaking their native tongue, punished for doing so, measured for “scientific study”, subjected to violence, socially rejected… This film aroused deep responses: shock, anger, frustration, despair, sadness and a burning outrage. Sami Blood also clearly shows how prejudice and racism are social constructs.

Yes, this is a film that stays with you.

Awards:

Sami Blood won a slew of awards and was nominated for many others. Some of the awards won are:
Göteberg Film Festival Dragon Ward Best Nordic Film (2017) and Sven Nykvist Cinematography Award
Guldbagge Awards (2018) Best Actress Lene Cecilia Sparrok, Best Screenplay Amanda Kernell, Best Editing Anders Skov, Audience Award Lars Lindström
LUX Prize (2017) Best Film
Riviera IFF (2017) Best Director Amanda Kernell
Thessaloniki FF (2016) Human Values Award
Tokyo IFF (2016) Special Jury Prize Amanda Kernell, Best Actress Lene Cecilia Sparrok
Venice FF (2016) Label Europa Cinemas Amanda Kernell, Feodora Award Best Director of a Debut Film Amanda Kernell

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

Trailer:


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Other Links:

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