Strange Words (2017)

Julian Vogel

Official Selection 2017

Strange Words (2017)

In the heart of Stockholm, a small group of elderly Sami tries to keep their native language and its poetry alive.

Julian Vogel

Denmark

Director's Biography

Julian Vogel is a film maker from Stockholm, Sweden. He is of South Korean, German and Swedish descent. He previously attended the National School of Journalism, and is a graduate of the European Film College. Currently he is undertaking a BA in documentary directing at the University of Edinburgh. He possesses a natural interest in people of different societies and cultures, and strives to find and capture their unique and fascinating stories through the lens of the camera.

Director's Comments

My grandfather is Sami. He grew up in a small village in Lapland, but lives in Stockholm today. That was about as much as I knew about his journey, and he never had a particular interest of telling me more about it. This project came from a wish to better understand my grandfather’s culture, and to explore personal themes of home and national identity that I was struggling with at the time. My first contact with other city Sami like my grandfather was at a Sami culture festival. In my interviews, some themes were reoccurring. There was a great pride of their culture and traditions, and a fear of it being forgotten by the younger generation. I discovered a kind of suspicion towards the Swedes, who made attempts to effectively eradicate their culture in recent history. I was fortunate enough to meet Johannes, a kind and curious Sami originally from the Arctic coast. He took interest in my project, and quickly invited me to attend a reading with his poetry society. I'm really glad I followed up on his offer. There was something immediately alluring in what was staged in the small community centre classroom on that gloomy December evening. A small group of elderly Sami, some in full folk dress regalia, reciting poetry of homeland and loss under the fluorescent lighting. The emotional atmosphere in the room was something unlike I’ve ever experienced. Each recital was heart warming and gut wrenching at the same time. I knew from that moment that this was something I wanted to depict, that these people and the words they spoke was somehow the key to understanding my grandfather’s potential struggle of moving away from home. The second breakthrough was experiencing what the poems depicted for myself. Seeing the breathtaking landscapes. Hearing the clang of the reindeer’s bell. Upon returning from our trip to the North, I could see it in their faces; how the city Sami closed their eyes and dreamt of home. Although very few of us in the world are Sami, I would like to think we all can relate to that feeling. That is what I want to preserve, and share with this film.

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