#TheTundraWithinMe, #TIFF2023, #SaraMargretheOskal
Toronto: In a cinematic world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), Norwegian filmmaker Sara Margrethe Oskal’s debut feature, ‘The Tundra Within Me’, was screened taking the audience on a visually stunning and emotionally resonant expedition to the snow-covered landscapes of Sápmi in northern Norway.
This evocative narrative navigates the intricate threads of love, heritage, and self-discovery amidst the reindeer herds of Scandinavia.
After years spent in the bustling city of Oslo, Lena (Risten Anine Kvernmo Gaup) makes a life-altering decision to return to her roots in Sápmi, embracing her Sami heritage. Accompanied by her young son, Lena embarks on an art project that delves into the nuances of Sami’s gender identity.
Against the backdrop of the wintry tundra, Lena’s exploration of cultural expression leads her to an unexpected encounter with Máhtte, a charismatic reindeer herder.
Their love blossoms amidst the breathtaking beauty of the region, but it encounters resistance from Máhtte’s mother, the matriarch of their herding family. As Lena’s past decisions cast a shadow over her newfound happiness, she grapples with the profound question of whether her and Máhtte’s contrasting lifestyles can ever find harmony.
Director Sara Margrethe Oskal, drawing from her own experiences as a former professional reindeer herder who transitioned to an artist, brings a deeply personal perspective to ‘The Tundra Within Me’.
In her poignant director’s statement, Oskal highlights the challenges faced by Saami youth who must navigate the delicate balance between traditional values and the allure of modern urban life.
“I want to dig into the feeling of not belonging in the traditional society where the collective mindset and its expectations have a strong influence on every individual,” Oskal stated.
Her words resonate with anyone who has felt the pull of their heritage and the desire for self-discovery in the face of societal expectations. Oskal’s film beautifully captures the essence of this struggle.
As Lena and Máhtte’s love story unfolds against the backdrop of an ever-changing Sápmi landscape threatened by external forces, Oskal’s lens unveils the profound importance of reindeer herding for Sámi culture and society. ‘The Tundra Within Me’ is a testament to the redemptive powers of love, forgiveness, and the enduring call of home.
In a world that continually grapples with cultural preservation and adaptation, Oskal’s cinematic debut underscores the urgency of safeguarding and revitalizing the cultural heritage of reindeer herding.
Her film passionately asserts that the Sámi community, in its journey towards progress and evolution, cannot afford to exclude anyone. Not everyone may choose the life of a reindeer herder, but everyone can play a role in nurturing and advancing Sámi culture and traditions.
Director Sara Margrethe Oskal presents her film at TIFF | Photo Courtesy: Suman Das
‘The Tundra Within Me’ is a visual and emotional masterpiece that will captivate hearts and minds alike. As the film makes its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival, it promises to be a cinematic experience that lingers in the soul—a poetic ode to love, identity, and the eternal bond between human and land.
(Reporting by Suman Das)