Kaisa West is a Lesbian who lives in Helsinki, Finland.  But, she lived much of her life among the Sami people, an indigenous group in the north of Scandinavia.  Like many indigenous peoples, the Sami have had their culture trodden upon by Christian missionaries.  The Sami communities express the same kind of anti-homosexual mentality that can be seen around the world where missionaries seek to spread the “word” of God, and this results in an incredibly repressive culture for gay people like Kaisa.

Kaisa’s older sister Suvi has made a documentary called Sparrooabban (or, Me and My Little Sister).  It follows the lives of the two sisters, who are very good friends, while also focusing on their quest to understand the historical and cultural reasons behind the homophobia of the Sami people.  Their quest takes them to Sami festivals to talk to other Sami homosexuals to learn their stories.  They also ask heterosexual Sami people what they think about homosexuality, and both sisters struggle to be forward with the nature of their documentary.

Perhaps the most remarkable and interesting technique used in this documentary is the degree to which it deconstructs the reasons behind its own creation.  It is all quite meta.  The girls talk about how difficult it is to be forward with people about the subject of their film.  This is a small metaphor for Kaisa’s entire life – when she is with the Sami, she is afraid to be herself, afraid to be judged and condemned.

At the end of the day, Me and My Little Sister is a story about sisterly love.  Suvi would go to the ends of the Earth to help Kaisa feel loved and accepted, and it clearly pains her to think about the defamation that Kaisa has experienced in the past, simply by being true to her own sexuality.  Hence, Suvi wants to learn about how indigenous peoples treated homosexuals in times before their cultures were replaced by Christian missionaries.  The film doesn’t make too much progress in that department, but the journey itself is far more important to the sisters and their relationships than any easy answer they could find.

Sunday, October 23, 12:00 PM, TIFF Bell Lightbox

Tickets can be purchased at the ImagineNATIVE website.