New short film by Marja Helander, Suodji – Shelter (2020) has started it international film festival life. Produced originally for the International Sámi Film Institute’s Home Sweet Home VoD series, the film was first screened in the national short film competition of Helsinki International Film Festival Love & Anarchy, held from September 17–27.
Further screenings include a hybrid (live + online) Sámi short film showcase at Reykjavik International Film Festival (RIFF), held from September 24 to October 4 in Iceland and a screening at ImagineNative Film + Media Arts Festival held online from October 20–25 in Toronto, Canada. Suodji and Helander’s previous short film Eatnanvuloš Lottit – Birds in the Earth (2018) can also be seen in a joint exhibition of Helander and Ingunn Utsi in Terminal B, Kirkenes, Norway. The exhibition is open until October 31.
Shelter (Suodji) is an adaptation of an old story from Utsjoki, Sápmi, to the present. It is a legend of the director’s relative, Ovllá-Ivvár Helander, and about what he did during the Spanish flu epidemic in 1918 in Utsjoki. Ovllá-Ivvár decided to fool Death and take his fate into his own hands. Today we are facing a similar threat in the form of coronavirus Covid-19 pandemic. The protagonist of the film is walking in Ovllá-Ivvár’s footsteps. But at the end, who is really who?
Marja Helander (b.1965) is a Finnish photographic and video artist. She graduated from the University of Art and Design in Helsinki in 1999. Her earlier work explored her own identity between the Finnish and the Sámi culture. Helander’s recent photographic work has focused on Northern landscape. The accent of the work is on the postcolonial topics in the Sámi area, focusing particularly on the global mining industry. The encounter between nature and mankind is not harmonious, but destructive. On the other hand, her video works are playful, exploring the contradiction between the traditional Sámi way of life and the modern society. Her recent short film Birds in the Earth won the Risto Jarva Prize and the main prize of the National Competition at Tampere Film Festival 2018. Marja Helander has participated in solo and group exhibitions and her works have been acquired for various public collections in Finland and abroad.
Reykjavik International Film Festival, September 24 – October 4 2020, Iceland
Ingunn Utsi & Marja Helander, September 18 – October 31 2020, Terminal B, Kirkenes, Norway
ImagineNative Film + Media Arts Festival, October 20–25 2020, Toronto, Canada