Premiere: September 23, 2022
Director: Liselotte Wajstedt
Starring Marion Anne RimpiIda, Ida Labba Persson
Running time: 1 hour 17 minutes
Age limit: 11 years
Rating: + + + +
Two Sami girls have been victims of sexual abuse in different ways. Swedish Ida has been raped after a party. Marion lives in Norway whose mother has taken her own life after being sexually abused as a child.
“Silence in Sàpmi” by filmmaker and artist Liselotte Wajstedt follows them and their fight for justice and against the silence of their surroundings.
Liselotte Wajstedt is Sami herself and that feels like a basic requirement here. The look is understood and never feels intrusive, rather brave. The perspective is Sami and never particularly romantic.
The abuses are also put into context. Macho culture and honor. Mental illness, multiple generations of oppression, humiliation and poverty. Women who avoided seeking help from Swedish and Norwegian society – often for good reasons.
The complex background is included here, but the film makes no accusations – neither against perpetrators nor colonial injustices. The focus is always on the two main characters, which also makes the stories feel universal. Word against word situations and a culture of silence can take place anywhere.
At the same time, the somewhat narrow focus becomes a bit frustrating when the film deals with the abuse in Norwegian Tysfjord – a terrible tangle where sexual abuse against children and young people has been going on for generations in a closed Sami coastal community. For the uninitiated, the documentary raises questions that remain unanswered.
Sometimes it gets damn heavy, especially with Ida’s story about the suspected rape itself, where Wajstedt mixes straight interview with model building and animation with claustrophobic effect. Several years have passed since she took on this project and that is probably another condition for the film to be shown. After all, the wounds are fairly healed today, at least for the film’s protagonists. The lingering feeling is that even suffocating silences can be broken.