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Nakkala by Ramseier, Peter

Magnificent footage of the Finnish tundra landscape, accompanied by hypnotic Sami music lead us through the vanishing world of the reindeer herders. Tending their animals since the beginning of time on the pastures of Poÿrisjävi in Lapland, the Sami way of life has gradually changed through modernization. While staying as a quest with his friend Iisakki-Matias Syvajarvi, the Swiss writer Hans Ulrich Schwaar provides insight in the life of the Sami. Schwaar’s host is a herd owner who initially led a semi-nomadic life, but increasingly has to conform to EU directives and other modern standards. With the introduction of snow bikes and motorized off road vehicles the concepts of trade and industry became part of the Sami world, slowly depriving the Sami of their traditional autarkic ways. The film Näkkälä shows the culture clash between traditional and modern lifestyles, painting an intriguing picture of a vanishing culture where man and nature lived in harmony.

Social Interest
Näkkälä shows that in some place in Europe, there are still secluded areas where nature dictates the terms of their life. The documentary gives special insight in everyday life and special events of the quiet Sami people. Impressive images of the harsh arctic life are accompanied by tales of change and how modern Western culture is influencing their habits. Most notable are the changes in reindeer herding and of the increasing migration away from desolate villages because of the improved developments within education. Other international influences are motorization, monetary economy, and European legislation, but also the joys of smoking, beer and fine vodka.

Economic Interest
The film shows the changes within a culture that was almost entirely cut off from Western European life until the 1970s. The introduction of mechanization accompanied by a monetary system changed the reindeer trade and gave way to other socio-economic adjustments. The educational system improved and compulsory schooling was introduced. This led to an increasing migration to cities with better educational facilities and job opportunities, mostly by Sami women. This had a huge impact on the demographic outlook of Sami villages such as Näkkälä, who are increasingly downsized, unable to provide job opportunities or alternative trade industries aside from reindeer herding. This could eventually lead to the disappearance Sami culture and pressures them to integrate in alternative commercial enterprises.

Political Interest
The Sami are the indigenous people of Northern Europe. Lapland, a region in the northern parts of Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Russia, is for the most part subject to the legislation of the EU. The herders of Näkkälä, living in Finn Lapland, must abide by Animal Health & Welfare laws of the EU, forcing them to let their animals be slaughtered in a slaughter house, against the traditions of the Sami. The Lapps view the Western practices as inhumane, but they have to conform to Brussels way in order to keep their herds. The documentary Näkkälä shows the impact international regulations have on the everyday life of people, who have to change the ways of their forefathers, exchanging their traditions for Western concepts of animal welfare based on scientific knowledge.

Ramseier, Peter
Copyright Holder
Beeld voor Beeld
88 min.
Year of release
Sami, Swiss German

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