Amidst the stark, rugged beauty of northern Norway, Ester, a young Sámi woman, tries to conceal her ethnicity to avoid the racism and ostracism of 1970s Norwegian society without betraying her family roots.
Meditative and character-driven, the film gradually builds as Ester reconnects with her family and heritage. As Ester struggles to navigate her shifting cultural identity, pulled between pride and shame, she’s drawn into her cousin Mihkkal’s defiant celebration of traditional Sámi clothing and language. Her choice to join with him and other Sámi activists protesting a dam that would flood their traditional land on the Alta River, pressuring the government to recognize their rights, threatens to unravel her already fraught and frayed social fabric at home and work.
By turns inspirational, incendiary, confrontational, tragic, and heartwarming, Let the River Flow challenges Norway’s legacy of racism and assimilation towards the Sámi people through a nuanced account of real events that inspired the film, distilled through the lens of Ester’s journey of self-realization and embrace of her Indigenous roots.
Audience Award, Tromso 2023; FIPRESCI and Audience Awards, Gotheborg 2023
Ella Marie Hætta Isaksen, Gard Emil, Sofia Jannok, Beaska Niillas, Marie Kvernmo
In Sámi/Norwegian with English subtitles
Marius Matzow Gulbrandsen
Ragnhild Juliane Sletta, Cecilie De Lange
Ola Fløttum, Pessi Levanto
Photo by Ole Magnus Kinapel
Ole Giæver (b.1977) studied at the Nordland Art and Film College and Konstfack Art Academy in Stockholm. His feature debut The Mountain (2011), was selected for Panorama at the Berlinale. His second feature Out of Nature (2015) premiered at Toronto and in Panorama at the Berlinale, where it won the Europa Cinemas Label Award. He returned to the Berlinale in 2017 with From the Balcony (2017), which was also selected for Panorama. Let the River Flow (2023) debuted at the Film Festival in Tromsø, winning the Audience Award. It also won the Audience and FIPRESCI Award at the Film Festival in Göteborg.
Filmography: The Mountain (2011); Out of Nature (2014); From The Balcony (2017)
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