Maj Doris is a pioneer of Sámi culture, with her art and acting career putting herself on the map and allowing for other Sámi artists to receive more attention. Twenty years ago, she retired and decided to focus on her farm in Parenjarka, where she tends to her reindeer, shovels snow, and enjoys a simpler life. In recent years her acting career has been taking off again, such has her role in Sámi Blood, and her art is being shown at exhibitions around Europe. In order to get away from her reindeer, she seeks help from Mansoor, a young man from Afghanistan who just got a residence permit in Sweden. She invites new Sámi artists into her home and talks about her life experiences, and her attitude to life is infectious.

The documentary follows Maj Doris over the course of a year, blending in her farm life with her art career, and beautifully paints a portrait of this fascinating woman, who at 75 shows no signs of slowing down. It shows how much affection she has for her reindeer, encompassing old Sami traditions in the process. We see her climbing up a ladder to clear the snow off her roof, and she invites Mansoor and his buddies out for pizza after a long day at work. With perhaps the best cinematography I’ve ever seen in a Nordic documentary, it’s hard not to fall in love with Sápmi, the Sámi culture and Maj Doris herself. It’ll leave you wanting to jump on a plane to travel north, as well as hoping you’re as cool as Maj Doris when you’re 75.

This review is in the March issue of Cinema Scandinavia. 

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  • Directed by Jon Blåhed
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.