VIFF 2017: Aboriginal Sweden steps up with Sami Blood


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      Systemic prejudice against Indigenous people isn’t just a Western Hemisphere thing.

      Scandinavian countries have engaged in a low-key war against Arctic Aboriginals over the years, with Sweden building its own version of Canada’s residential schools. Mostly set in the 1930s, the darkly shot film follows two Sami sisters as they’re separated from their reindeer-herding mother and sent to a school dedicated to wiping out all traces of their culture. The nearly two-hour film is very well acted, especially by Lene Cecilia Sparrok, who plays the older sibling, who assimilates more easily—at her own peril. But it’s repetitive in tone, and filmmaker Amanda Kernell, part Sami herself, started with an unavoidable obstacle: the people who used to be called Laplanders are now so intermarried with the general population that it’s hard, for outside audiences anyway, to spot any defining ethnic differences between characters in a movie drawing on the actors available today. 


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