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Spectator Numbers Higher than Last Year – Films Shown at Skábmagovat Evoked a Range of Emotions

Jan 26, 2016 02:40 PM

The indigenous film festival Skábmagovat – Reflections of the Endless Night was held for the 18th time in Inari, Finland, from 21 to 24 January 2016. The festival focused this year on the Navajos. In addition to Navajo films, films from Myanmar and by the Crimean Tatars were shown. Films by other indigenous nations also abounded.

Spectator Numbers Higher than Last Year – Films Shown at Skábmagovat Evoked a Range of Emotions

Photo: Tapio Seppänen

Our special guest at the festival was Blackhorse Lowe (Navajo), an awarded director from New Mexico, USA. For more than 15 years, he has examined the pressure between tradition and modernity through his films that take place in a Navajo reservation, with his family members contributing actively to the production of the films for example by acting in them. Lowe’s newest feature film Chasing the Light (2015) evoked a range of feelings among the audience in Inari.

The local public was especially interested in the Thursday show on reindeer herding, the first show of the festival.  In the film Porot kuuluvat tuulelle a group of reindeer herders from Käsivarsi, the northwestern corner of Finland, described the challenges they are facing due to land use, for example. The show was also attended by Anni-Kristiina Juuso, the Sámi Film Star and a reindeer-herding actress and Master of Laws.  In the same show, we also presented Aslak Paltto’s work on predator policy, seen from the perspective of reindeer herders.

On Saturdayurday, the film hall of Sajos filled up in a second when it was time for a prepremiere of Suvi West’s film Sparrooabbán. The touching documentary tells about Kaisa, the director’s sister, who has chosen a path that is taboo in the conservative Sámi community: the love for another woman. When looking for answers in this road movie -type film, the sisters run into a wall of silence. The show also included Amanda Kernell’s Stuorre Vaerie, an awarded film that has also been presented at the Sundance Festival. Because of a huge interest for the screening, an extra rerun of the show was arranged on Sunday.

The Sámi programme of the festival also included the newest documentary of Ima Aikio which dealt with the rapper Amoc. The audience also praised the film Bihttoš by the Blackfoot/Sámi director Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers. The film examines, in a touching way, the director’s childhood family, and it was shown, for example, on Saturday night at the packed Northern Lights Theatre in the light of a full moon.

In the evening parties, the public was danced by the rap duo Ailu Valle and Amoc. On Saturday, Veijo Länsman’s songs were again brought to life by Niillas Holmberg and the band Šuvvábojat. This year, the festival programme was extended to cover a play, too, when the Giron Sámi Teahter from Sweden staged its futuristic play Reaktor in Inari.

On Friday, there was a discussion on a theme that is often on the minds of Sámi parents: the lack of children’s TV programmes in the Sámi language. At the gathering, plans for dubbing children’s programmes were made by the Sámi Parliament’s Educational Office, Yle Sápmi, the Film Centre Skábma and the International Sámi Film Centre IFS together with parents.

The number of spectators in 2016 surpassed the number of 2015 by 300. The festival had its record audience in 2013 when we had our 15th anniversary. This year, the festival had altogether 3,100 visitors with 350 of them attending the evening concerts. The number of children and young people participating in the festival was ca. 300, and almost 800 visits to screenings and workshops by them were registered.  In addition to Sajos, performances were arranged in Siida’s auditorium and in the Northern Lights Theatre, the theatre made out of snow that has become the characteristic of the festival. The number of films shown was higher than ever: altogether 95 films were screened.

Next time, the festival will be arranged 26–29 Jan. 2017.

The Skábmagovat Film Festival is arranged by the Friends of Sámi Art in cooperation with the Sámi Museum and Nature Centre Siida, the Cultural Centre Sajos, the Indigenous Film Centre Skábma, the Sámi Education Institute and YLE Sápmi.

The festival had Jenni Haukio, the First Lady of Finland, as its patron.

The event has received funding from the Finnish Sámi Parliament, Inari Municipality, the Ministry of Education and Culture, the Finnish Cultural Foundation’s Regional Fund of Lapland, the Arts Promotions Centre Finland, Kone Foundation, Jenny and Antti Wihuri Foundation and the Saami Council. ­­

Further information:

Jorma Lehtola, Artistic Director, tel. +358 50 4144 349.

Anne Kirste Aikio, tel. +358 40 7681 689.

Sámi museum, Siida, Inarintie 46, FI-99870 Inari, tel. +358 (0)400 898 212, siida@samimuseum.fi, www.siida.fi

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