Cultural and ethnographic identity is explored in the fragmented but engrossing docu “The Sami,” Markku Lehmuskallio and Anastasia Lapsui’s modest, unpretentious look at Europe’s last aboriginal people. Aiming for a better understanding of who the Sami are and how they relate to their categorization, the helmers interview a representative array of people living both in traditional Arctic areas and scattered around the globe. Results show a heterogeneous group still adjusting to monumental changes in lifestyle, integrated to a degree but feeling the pull of a separate identity. Euro cable should find interested viewers.
Nine distinct Sami languages spread over four countries were kept alive by the isolating traditional occupations of reindeer herding and fishing. Nomadic life, however, has largely disappeared, and intermarriage has diluted many people’s sense of cohesiveness. Among interviewees is helmer Nils Gaup, currently shooting a feature based on a 19th-century Sami uprising in Kautokeino, and artist Maarit Suokas-Alanko, a half-Sami Finnish speaker now living in Hanoi. Hope for a Sami revival (much like Welsh) is embodied by musician Mikkal Morottaja, whose raps — not subtitled — in Inari Sami spur interest in younger generations. Visuals are generically attractive.