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Sundance Film Festival: “Sami Blood” a beautifully heartbreaking look at assimilation
by JENNIFFER WARDELL
Jan 23, 2017 | 3244 views | 0 0 comments | 374 374 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Photo by Sophia Olsson | Courtesy of Sundance Institute
Photo by Sophia Olsson | Courtesy of Sundance Institute
slideshow

Not rated

Written and directed by Amanda Kernell

Starring Lene Cecilia Sparrok, Mia Sparrok, Maj-Doris Rimpi, Olle Sarri, Hanna Alstrom, Malin Crepin and more

Grade: Three and a half stars

Assimilation has broken more hearts than those of us asking for it could ever realize.

That’s the truth at the core of a thousand different stories, including the quietly heartbreaking “Sami Blood.” Told in Swedish and South Sami, it’s the story of a girl who is forced to choose between her dreams of a different life and the family who still upheld the culture in which she was raised. Here, the cost of ambition is giving up a piece of yourself.

Beginning in the present day before heading back to the 1930s, the story follows Elle Marja, a young Sami girl as she goes to boarding school in Sweden. This isn’t a simple task – all the non-Sami she interacts with are wildly racist, to the point of holding race biology examinations at the school. Though Elle Marja’s little sister is homesick at the school, wanting only to go back and take care of the family’s reindeer herds, Elle Marja dreams of a life where she might fit in with the people around her.

The acting throughout the movie is phenomenal, particularly from both the younger and older actresses playing Elle Marja. You can see the weight of time in Maj-Doris Rimpi, who plays the elder Elle Marja, and though she says very little her emotions radiate out of her with the smallest shifts in expression. Lene Cecilia Sparrok plays the younger Elle Marja, a girl made of longing and backbone. Her tender moments with her younger sister (played by the actress’s sister Mia) are the most beautifully painful moments in the entire film.  

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