The 6th Annual Sámi Film Festival returns to Scandinavia House this February! Presented as a partnership between the National Nordic Museum in Seattle and Scandinavia House in New York, the Festival will take place with in-person screenings at Scandinavia House on Friday, February 9 and Saturday, February 10, and virtual screenings available nationwide from February 8-11.
This year’s program includes the selections of guest curator Liselotte Wajstedt, featuring a variety of contemporary and historical Sámi features, documentaries and short films. On Friday, February 9 at 7 PM, the Festival will open with an in-person screening of director Katja Gauriloff’s critically acclaimed Je’Vida, the first feature film to be shot in the Skolt Sámi language, which made its world premiere at this summer’s Tribeca Film Festival and was also an official selection at the 2023 Toronto International Film Festival. The film follows a Sámi woman as she returns to her childhood home in Lapland following her sister’s death. As she confronts memories of forced assimilation, both she and her niece Sanna find value in themselves and their roots. Je’Vida has been hailed as “a strong and assured filmmaking debut” (The Spool) and “an ode to the importance of home, family and a sense of belonging” (Eye for Film).
The in-person program will continue on Saturday, February 10 with Short Film sessions beginning at 1 PM, with a 20-minute intermission between. Tickets apply to both afternoon sessions. Films include Marja Helander’s Áfruvvá – Mermaid (2022), about a sea-being who experiences humanity through an abandoned museum; The Daughters of the Midnight Sun/Overlander (1985; dir. Ylva Floreman and Peter Östlund), which looks at Sámi people as they discuss their original, traditional life during their summer return to the mountains north of the Polar Circle; Njuokčamat/The Tongues (2019; dir. Marja Bål Nango and Ingir Ane Bål Nango), about two sisters who unite for revenge following an assault on one during a blizzard; and Eili Bråstad’s SKÁDJA (2022), in which a chance meeting has a strong impact on two women.
Beginning at 3 PM, the second session of films includes Mihkkal Hætta’s Whispers of Reindeer Milk (2023), a short film exploring an alternative universe in Sápmi where primordial knowledge was removed from the colonists; Muohtačalmmit/Snowflakes
(2022; dir. Hans Pieski and Arttu Nieminen), an experimental film about the flow of water as a metaphor for Sámi people in the compression of modern times; Ellos Fovsen (dir. Dennis Møller), a documentary about the demonstrations against illegal wind turbines established by the Norwegian government in Fosen; and Give Us Our Skeletons! (2000, dir. Pau-Anders Simma), about a man and his lineage over a century pervaded by racism and oppression.
Virtual film screenings beginning February 8 include seven short films (all those included in the lineup outside of Whispers of Reindeer Milk). Virtual passes are available nationwide through February 11 via our Elevent platform.
The Sámi Film Festival originated as a partnership between the National Nordic Museum and Pacific Sámi Searvi in 2018. Since that time, it has become an onsite event drawing audiences from the East and West Coasts. Festival curator Liselotte Wajstedt, a Sámi filmmaker from Sweden, is the director of The Silence in Sápmi (dir. Liselotte Wajstedt, Sweden, 2022) and Sire and the Last Summer (dir. Liselotte Wajstedt, Sweden, 2022), both of which screened at last year’s Sámi Film Festival.