On Solid Ground

Project Spotlight: A program of Indigenous shorts from Sápmi and Canada.

ᓄᓇᐃᑦ ᓄᓇᖃᖅᑳᖅᓯᒪᔪᑦ ᐱᒋᔭᖏᑦ ᓯᓚᕐᔪᐊᑉ ᑲᓇᖕᓇᖓᓂᑦ ᐱᓕᕆᖃᑎᒌᖕᓂᖅ
Two dancers in white bodysuits and tutus in a landscape in Sápmi.

This film program contains content that may distress some readers, especially those who have experienced harm, abuse and/or intergenerational trauma due to historic and ongoing colonial practices.

Support is available 24 hours a day for anyone affected by their experience at residential schools and for those who may be triggered by content dealing with residential schools. The national crisis line for residential school survivors is 1-866-925-4419. Survivors and their families can also contact the Hope for Wellness Help Line toll-free at 1-855-242-3310.

Two dancers in white bodysuits and tutus in a landscape in Sápmi.
Marja Helander, Eatnanvuloš lottit (Birds in the Earth) (video still) (2019).

Curated by Anne-Lajla Utsi & Sunna Nousuniemi (International Sámi Film Institute) and Jason Ryle (former Executive Director of ImagineNative).

This program was originally presented in 2019.

The land remains a central element to Indigenous cultures around the world. This collection of short films made by Indigenous filmmakers from Sápmi and Canada explore the complex and layered aspects of our territories: relational, spiritual, physical or metaphysical. The land connects the past, present and future, and within it lie the roots of our strength and identities.

Gumpe (Wolf)

Ken Are Bongo (Sámi)
Finland | 2018 | 5 min
Short Drama

The wolf has always been a sly and scary hunter who threatened the reindeer herd. But now the reindeer herd is threatened by a new kind of wolf.

The Sámi have rights

Elle Márjá Eira (Sámi) & Mai-Lis Eira (Sámi)
Norway | 2019 | 11 min
Short Documentary

This is a trilogy about Norway’s shame.

Eatnanvuloš lottit (Birds in the Earth)

Marja Helander (Sámi)
Finland | 2019 | 11 min

Two Sámi sisters from Finland dance through the villages and lost woods of Sámi land all the way to the South, where the important decisions are made. The accent is on the ownership of Sámi land, the Sámi being the Indigenous people of Fennoscandia.

Morit Elena Morit (Wake Up Elena Wake Up)

Anders Sunna (Sámi) & Inga Wiktoria Påve (Sámi)
Finland | 2017 | 5 min
Short Animation

This atmospheric tale follows a young girl and her reindeer as they try to escape the menacing darkness of colonial oppression in Sápmi. Guided by a spirit, she is reminded to listen to her inner voice and trust her instincts. Both directors draw inspiration from their family traditions.

Bihttoš (Rebel)

Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers (Sámi/Blackfoot)
Canada | 2014 | 14 min
Short Drama

Bihttoš is an unconventional documentary that explores the complex relationship between a father and daughter. Through animation, reenactments and archival photos, Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers delves into the dissolution of her parents’ somewhat mythic love story, and how it relates to the dissolution of her relationship with her father. 

Lelum’ (Home)

Asia Youngman (Cree, Iroquois, Carrier, Métis)
Canada | 2017 | 9 min
Short Documentary

Lelum’ (the Hul’qumi’num word for “home”) portrays the strength and beauty of the land from the perspectives of Indigenous youth. Stunning aerial shots of British Columbia landscapes are complemented with messages that speak to our inherent responsibility to protect and show respect for our home.

Onyota’a:ka khale Tsi’tkalù:to (Oneida and Toronto)

Judith Kanatahawi Schuyler (Onyota’a:ka)
Canada | 2018 | 5 min

This self-reflective work utilizes a split screen to examine ways of life for the people of Onyota’a:ka, both in the city of Toronto and on the Oneida Nation Settlement.

Three Thousand

asinnajaq (Inuk)
Canada | 2017 | 14 min
Short Documentary

Artist asinnajaq throws a creative net into the National Film Board of Canada’s audiovisual archive, weaving historic footage of Inuit into original animation. In fourteen minutes of luminescent cinema, she recasts the past, present and future of Inuit in a surprising new light.


Filmmaker biographies

Three Thousand is the first film for asinnajaq who is also a curator and has worked on Canada’s pavilion for the 2019 Venice Biennale. 

Ken Are Bongo is a filmmaker from the Sámi town of Kautokeino in Northern Norway. He has his education from Nordland School of Art and Film and has been working with film since 2006.

Elle Márjá Eira is an artist, director, and producer from Kautokeino, Norway.

Mai-Lis Eira is a young director and artist from Kautokeino, Norway.

Marja Helander (b.1965) is a Finnish photographic and video artist. After originally training as a painter at the Lahti Institute of Fine Arts from 1988 to 1992, Helander then pursued her interest in photography and graduated from the University of Art and Design in Helsinki in 1999.

Inga-Wiktoria Påve is from a Sámi reindeer herding family in a small village called Lannavaara in Sweden, and Anders Sunna was raised in a reindeer herding family in Kieksiäisvaara.

Judith Kanatahawi Schuyler is a filmmaker and arts administrator. Her first short film Love Kills premiered at ImagineNATIVE in 2009. Schuyler is currently in pre-production for another experimental short film, There IS Light.

Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers is a filmmaker, writer, and actor. She is Blackfoot from the Kainai First Nation (Blood Reserve) as well as Sámi from Northern Norway.

Asia Youngman is an emerging Indigenous filmmaker from Vancouver. a self-taught videographer and video editor. Asia developed a passion for both cinematography and visual effects while at the Vancouver film school. Lelum’ is her first short film.


About ISFI

The International Sámi Film Institute (ISFI) vision is to build a sustainable & leading-edge Sámi film industry that is globally visible and attractive. We fight for the survival of Sámi culture, languages and livelihoods, and we will build a bright future through our stories.

ISFI is the fireplace where Sámi stories catch fire, and where our storytellers gather to connect and become stronger together.


About ImagineNative

ImagineNative is the world’s largest presenter of Indigenous-made screen content. The organisation presents the annual ImagineNative Fim + Media Arts Festival in Toronto, Canada, which is celebrating its 20th year in October 2019. ImagineNative is a registered charity committed to creating a greater understanding of Indigenous peoples and cultures through the presentation of contemporary Indigenous-made media art including film, video, audio and digital media. 


This story is part of the Sámi Spotlight. View more content from the Spotlight here.