Linda Blomqvist had never made a film in her life when she decided to make one about the Sami people. Not only did she find her true calling in life - that of a film maker - but she also produced a film that has left many wanting more.
“Samis are in the air,” exclaims Blomqvist during a visit to New York. “And I’ve always had an interest in them, who they are, their culture, how they live. I always felt they were shrouded in some kind of magic. We never learned anything about them in school even though they are our indigenous people.”
Blomqvist herself is from Lidingö and can claim no Sami blood, although her parents are both from Norrland, so there might be a slight possibility after all.
“I wanted to give the Sami people a voice,” she explains. “I can feel a lot of bitterness about how they’ve been treated. I wanted to show their integrity.”
So Linda traveled to Norrland and quickly found a gateway to the Samis through an old classmate, Johannes, and she originally thought her film, planned as a trailer, would center on him as well as some other Samis. But then she met the elusive and fascinating Sami artist Roland Pantze.
“I wanted to make a film about three generations of Sami, and how differently they view not only themselves but life in general. Roland represents the middle generation, although he never told me how old he is. My trailer evolved into an art film.”
Living alone in the untouched wilderness of Lapland, Pantze became an inspiration for Linda. He is proof, she says, that it’s possible to live outside the system in complete love and reverence for nature.
“Roland is a vegetarian and he has more energy than any other person I know. Even though he’s a bit of a hermit, he also likes to travel and meet people. Like most Samis, time is of no real value to him; he follows a different rhythm, where there’s a freedom from time and control. When I visit Roland, we sit around the open fire and talk, really talk, and whenever I come back from visiting him I feel as I’ve been away on a health cure.”
Linda says she feels the Samis most often figure into propaganda films, and that a novel way to present them is needed.
“We need to lift up their culture and present them that way,” she explains. “Their culture and heritage is something very profound and there’s something very civilized about their way of living.”
Modern genetic and archeological science indicate that the Sami are the last remaining fraction of the oldest indigenous people of Europe. They originated from the hunters and gatherers that followed the border of the melting inland ice to Scandinavia some 10,000 years ago. They are a threatened people, however, and unless their voice is heard, their unique culture could become extinct. The Sami have used their land since ancient times, they have earned the right to use it, their so-called “immemorial rights”. However, this right to winter pasture outside the reindeer grazing mountains is a matter of controversy. In court after court, landowners are forcing the Sami away from their winter grazing land, with the argument that the modern reindeer heritage differs so much from the past, that the concept “immemorial” is no longer legitimate. The Sami villages now face the option of relinquishing the rights to which they feel they are entitled or to fight for them in higher courts with an imminent risk of bankruptcy.
“If you are trying to wipe out a people,” Linda says, “then the easiest way to do so is to take away that people’s way of living. And reindeer keeping is the Sami way of living. You take that away from them and you also take away the pride of the Sami men, you take away their role as breadwinners.”
Linda says that although she has encountered bitterness among older Samis, she has not had anything but positive experiences meeting with them. And among the younger Samis, she senses great hope.
“They are very proud, they wear their Sami clothes, and they do their Jojk.”
Linda is now busy planning a feature, “The Hidden People of Scandinavia”, about the Sami culture mirrored through three generations.
“I’ve encountered so much interest from Americans about the Sami,” she says. “My film 'Source of Inspiration’ was screened at the Nordic Heritage Museum and was chosen to represent Sweden in the EuroDocs festival in Los Angeles, where it opened the festival. I’ve received help from the American Scandinavian Foundation of Los Angeles, and Scandinavian Film Festival L.A has pledged to support this project.”
As for filmmaking, she is hooked.
“I always wanted to do something creative, and focus a bit on something that’s my own,” she says. “I’ve worked as a producer in London for many years, for instance. And with this first film I managed to get people interested in investing themselves and their time.”
For more information about Linda, “Source of Inspiration”, her upcoming feature, and how you can help her, please visit:
http://www.inone.se