“I thought the Swedes were so hip and cool”, a number of friends and colleagues have said to me, when I’ve told them about a fairly dark past, about how Swedes treated Indigenous people there, the Sami. With a number of parallels to what happened in Australia and many other countries, it’s a very sad story.
The film “Sami Blood” (Sameblood) goes some way to helping people better understand the historical context. Told through the lens of one woman’s story, you get an insight into the personal, as well as the political reasons, why so many people became isolated from Sami culture. The film tells the story of a woman returning to Northern Sweden for the funeral of her sister. And while the returning sister claims to have nothing to do with her Indigenous heritage, the funeral rites for the sister remain firmly in the Sami tradition. The film then takes us back to why the returning sister chose to deny that part of her heritage. By the film’s end, there’s a resolution. It’s a beautiful film, and one I’d highly recommend.
It’s just one of two films I’ve seen, so far, at the Scandinavian Film Festival.
The other was called “Tom Of Finland”, tells the story of 1980s/1990’s popular culture artist. As with Sami Blood, the film starts in the 1940s, when the real life Tom was in the Finnish army, fighting the Soviet Union. The film then runs through the next thirty or forty years, as the real life Tom experiences the life of being a gay man, living in what appears to be a deeply conservative Finland. Until, finally, his art work, with its deep homoeroticism is discovered in America, becomes part of the popular culture, and perhaps influences a whole generation of “leather men”. It’s fascinating.
Even a week later, I’m still raving about the these two films. There’s another film I’m thinking of heading along to. The next couple of weeks are busy, so I’ll see how it all goes.