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Smoke Sauna Sisterhood

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Within the sheltered confines of a traditional smoke sauna deep in an Estonian forest, groups of women gather to cleanse themselves in both body and soul. On and off through the seasons, this intimate locale becomes a space for female togetherness, giving the women room not just to indulge in traditional sauna-based rituals (included on UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity list), but also to share intensely personal hurts and longings, joys and pains. In Smoke Sauna Sisterhood, a hotbox becomes a place of healing. A deserving winner of the directing award in Sundance’s World Cinema Documentary category, filmmaker Anna Hints boldly combines an intimate non-fiction approach with sensuous lyrical expressionism, balancing the disarming frankness of her subjects’ conversations with ravishing, lushly photographed textures of fire, wood, steam, smoke, and flesh. Less an act of individual portraiture than a kind of collective diary, or even an exorcism of experience, the film is a moving tribute to female resilience and community.

Country of Origin







In Estonian, Seto and Võro with English subtitles

Content Warning

Discussions of Sexual Violence, Sexual Discrimination

89 min
Documentary Women Directors

Book Tickets

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Marianne Ostrat


Anna Hints


Ants Tammik


Hendrik Mägar, Tushar Prakash, Qutaiba Barhamji, Martin Männik, Anna Hints


Anna Hints headshot

Anna Hints

Anna Hints is an Estonian film director with a background in contemporary art and experimental folk music. Anna has deep roots in the distinct culture of South Estonia. As an active dumpster diver, Anna’s short documentary For Tomorrow Paradise Arrives initiated public discussion and growth of new grassroot movements against food waste in Estonia. Anna’s first feature length film Smoke Sauna Sisterhood premiered at the Sundance Film Festival World Cinema Documentary Competition in January 2023 and received the Directing Award.

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