#Vafanfårjag is this week’s most popular hashtag in Sweden. Meaning “what the hell do I get”, it refers to a quote by Leif Östling, chairman of Sweden’s largest business federation. Östling was among those mentioned in the Paradise Papers and when interviewed about tax evasion, he critized the Swedish tax system, asking, “If you pay 20-30 million kronor a year – what the hell do I get for the money?” Swedes are now twittering away about benefits of the tax-financed welfare state (of course intertwined with many critical tweets as well) and I have an item to add to the list: public film funding.
Tonight, I went to see a screening of “Sami Blood”, a film nominated for the LUX Prize. Since 2007, the award is given to a European film each year by the European Parliament. The objective of the LUX Prize is to facilitate the diffusion of European films in the union. The winning film is subtitled in all 23 official EU languages, making it available to all Europeans. Last year, the German movie “Toni Erdmann” won the prize. This year, I place all my bets on “Sami Blood” which I have just seen.
The film is a touching portrayal of 14-year-old Elle Marja, a Sámi girl, in the 1930s. Race biology was a big thing in Sweden then and the Sámi were heavily discriminated against. The amazingly headstrong Elle Marja tries to break with her family and heritage to become someone else, a Swede. Impressively showing the pain of cutting off your culture and home, the lead actress, as well as the supporting actors, deliver an exceptional performance. A nuanced story with lots of mood shifts in intense pictures lets the viewer partake in the struggle of Sweden’s indigenous people.
Adding to the appeal for me was that part of the movie is set in the stunning nature of Northern Sweden, the other part in Uppsala, my beautiful student town, where I can identify a place in a scene by only seeing a wall.
Oh, and I got to see it for free. I assume the screening was financed with tax money.