Film review: Northern Great Mountain

Stoerre vaerie / Sweden / 2014 / dir.Amanda Kernell / short film


Northern Great Mountain is a Swedish/Sami short film that is currently circulating around various festivals in the Nordic countries and overseas. In the film, Ellie doesn’t like indigenous Sami people – though she is a Sami herself. Under pressure from her son, she returns to Lapland and the Northern Great Mountain for her sisters Sami funeral. When they are going home it turns out that her son has palnned for them to stay with the family and go to the mountains. Refusing to do so Ellie checks in to the local Grand hotel with all the tourists.

By far the standout of the short is the incredible use of scenery. Being in Lapland, it’s hard to get a bad photo of the snow-capped mountains and rocky fields. The film captures a beautiful icy blue/purple colour palette that is perfectly matched by the stunning traditional Sami costumes at the funeral. Sami cinema is increasingly rapidly – in our new magazine we spoke to those behind the funding of Sami films at the FilmFond Nord and Sami Film Institute – and their indications of Sami stories becoming increasingly popular in contemporary cinema come to life in this film.

As with most Nordic drama, the pacing is slow and the long shots on the characters allow for you to feel as they do. The actor behind Ellie (Maj-Doris Rimpi- is simply stunning, and you spend much of the short watching her react to various elements. The best scene is when she walks through a raving party to look out the window at the red cottages, mountainous landscape, and the helicopter with her family leaving.

The film won the Startsladden Audience award at the Goteborg Film Festival in 2015 and is produced by Nordisk Film Sverige.

They are currently casting for a feature-length version of the film.

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Emma Vestrheim

Emma Vestrheim is the editor-in-chief of Cinema Scandinavia. Originally from Australia, she is now based in Bergen, Norway, and attends major Nordic film festivals to conduct interviews and review new films.

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