Amanda Kernell

Sweden, Norway, Denmark, 2016 / 110 min / Swedish and Sami OV with EN subtitles / Drama

1930s Sweden: Elle Marja, 14, a reindeer-herding Sámi girl, is sent away from her family to a state boarding school that is intended to raise its indigenous charges to a level “acceptable” to the rest of Swedish society. Despite the constant exposure to race biology examinations, she is curious at first and excels in her new surroundings, mastering the Swedish language and other lessons quickly while her sister struggles. Her desire to be accepted and burgeoning sexuality, leads her to internalise the school’s vile lessons about race and class and soon drives a wedge between her and her fellow students. To completely assimilate into the foreign society, she is forced to become someone else and break all ties with her family and culture, an action she may not have the opportunity to regret.


“Sámi Blood” has all the anger and indignation one should expect from a drama centred on such appalling events and methods employed by self-proclaimed “civilised” (i.e. white) nations around the world in the late 19th and 20th century. But with Kernell's nuanced direction and Sparrok's devastating performance, it's also a brilliant character study, showing how this kind of officially sanctioned abuse insidiously attacks the minds of its victims as well as their bodies. “Sámi Blood” is driven by righteous rage, psychological acuity, and a profound empathy. (Adapted from Steve Gravestock’s Toronto International Film Festival summary).

Selection - Youth Jury

Fri 03/03 19:00 Ciné Utopia SE OV with EN subt. Public
Sat 04/03 19:00 Cinémathèque SE OV with EN subt. Public

“What Sami Blood is able to achieve is a rather sobering portrayal of the impossible decision Elle-Marja faces (…) Director Amanda Kernell keeps a tight focus on her protagonist, and that’s the film’s best feature. Sparrok is a revelation and the true highlight of this film. She imbues Elle-Marja with a very subtle assertiveness, constantly stepping forward no matter how terrified. (…) Overall, Sami Blood is a beautiful portrayal of Elle-Marja, and it highlights the issues surrounding this colonisation period without sounding preachy. Rather, it focuses in on one particular person and the choices she has to make based on a terrible circumstance she is in.” Emma Vestrheim, Cinema Scandinavia, 12/12/2016


“A moving, classically rendered coming-of-age tale set against the scarring social prejudices of the 1930s, this handsome debut feature from Swedish-Sami writer-director Amanda Kernell robustly blends adolescent fears that resonate across borders and generations with a fascinatingly specific, rarely depicted cultural context: Sweden’s colonial oppression of the indigenous Sami folk. (…) this stirring but pleasingly unsentimental tale has all the makings of a festival crowdpleaser, and introduces a poised, intelligent young talent in star Lene Cecilia Sparrok.” Guy Lodge, Variety, 01/09/2016


“Even the most ravishing sections of the film’s landscape are shot by cinematographers Sophia Olsson and Petrus Sjövik in a rich range of blues that can connote idyllic tranquillity or lowering threat with a subtle shift of the light. But it’s Sparrok’s quiet, searching debut performance that deserves substantial credit for “Sami Blood’s” delicately modulated tone. Blessed with a still gaze that can look hopefully defiant and utterly adrift all at once, she knots and loosens her body language according to who’s watching Elle-Marja, and how” Guy Lodge, Variety, 01/09/2016


“the charismatic Sparrok (…) delivers a steely performance that manages to clearly convey her character’s intelligence and determination to get what she wants out of life in one way or another. And there’s not a false note in the ensemble opposite her, suggesting Kernell knows what she’s doing with the actors. Sami Blood, shot over the summer, has all the trappings of a classical period piece, but thankfully, the film never feels musty. Instead, the director and her cinematographer, Sophia Olsson (taking over the baton from Petrus Sjovik, who shot the short), use the camera loosely; composer Kristian Eidnes has a minimalist and atmospheric score in store and editor Anders Skov's work always feels brisk and alert even when there is not a whole lot of narrative incident to drive the action.” Boyd van Hoeij, The Hollywood Reporter, 09/01/2016

  • Human Values Award – Thessaloniki Film Festival, 2016 (Greece)
  • Label Europa Cinemas – Venice Film Festival, 2016 (Italy)
  • Fedeora Award for the Best Director of a Debut Film – Venice Days, Venice Film Festival, 2016 (Italy)
  • Special Jury Prize (Amanda Kernell) – Tokyo International Film Festival, 2016 (Japan)
  • Award for the Best Actress (Lene Cecilia Sparrok) – Tokyo International Film Festival, 2016 (Japan)
Cast & Credits
Lene Cecilia Sparrok, Mia Sparrok, Maj Doris Rimpi, Olle Sarri, Hanna Alström, Anders Berg, Katarina Blind, Beata Cavallin, Malin Crépin, Julius Fleischanderl, Ylva Gustafsson, Tom Kappfjell, Anna Sofie Bull Kuhmunen, Andreas Kundler
Amanda Kernell
Sophia Olsson, Petrus Sjövik
Brian Dyrby, Mira Falk
Olle Remaeus
Kristian Eidnes Andersen
Nordisk Film Production Sverige AB
SVT, Bautafilm AB, Digipilot AS, Nordisk Film Production
ABC Distribution

The Sámi-Swedish director Amanda Kernell, born in 1986, graduated in film directing from The National Film School of Denmark in 2013. Since 2006, she has directed several acclaimed shorts including “Stoerre Vaerie”, the pilot for “Sámi Blood” which premiered at Sundance and was nominated for the Swedish Guldbagge for Best Short in 2015. “Sámi Blood” is her first feature film, inspired by the life of her own grandmother who was taught a deep hatred for the Sámi as a child despite being one herself.

  • 2016 - Sameblod (Sámi Blood)
  • 2016 - I Will Always Love You Kingen (short)
  • 2015 - Stoerre vaerie (Northern Great Mountain) (short)
  • 2014 - Paradiset (Eutopia) (short)
  • 2013 - The Association of Joy (short)
  • 2010 - Det kommer aldrig gå över (This Means Forever) (short)
  • 2009 - Att dela allt (Sharing All) (short)
  • 2009 - Spel, drama (short)
  • 2008 - Semestersystern (The Holiday Sister) (short)
  • 2007 - Våra discon (Our Disco) (short)