Smoke Sauna Sisterhood, winner of the award for Best Documentary at the 2023 European Film Awards, returns to Scandinavia House on January 31! Join us for director Anna Hints’ intimate delve into the cultural tradition of Vana-Võromaa’s smoke saunas in South Estonia (included in UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage list) and see how they are unique spaces for healing and community. The film draws inspiration from the smoke saunas’ historical role in childbirth, where women gather to share secrets, connecting family and friends to cleanse the body and — more importantly — the soul, inside a place of peace and contemplation.
This documentary, which was the first Estonian film to win an award for directing at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival, captures the essence of the smoke sauna experience with masterful cinematography, evoking Vermeer and Rembrandt. Hints authentically portrays women, delving into themes of trauma, healing, and sisterhood. The film concludes with a runic verse, “Thank You Song for Smoke Sauna,” performed by director Anna Hints and producer Marianne Ostrat, expressing gratitude to the spirit of the smoke sauna, the women in the film, and all those who contributed to bringing Smoke Sauna Sisterhood to life. The film has been selected as Estonia’s contender for next year’s Academy Awards.
“This is a film that records a little-known aspect of a little-known national identity…the visual poetry is magnificent”—(Jonathan Romney, Financial Times)