In 1930s Sweden, Elle-Marja and her sister Njenna are taken from their indigenous reindeer-breeding family and sent to a Sámi-only boarding school where they are subjected to locals’ taunts and the indignities of race-based physical examinations. While Njenna clings to her cultural traditions, Elle-Marja urges her to speak Swedish and try harder to assimilate. As she realizes how deeply she is judged as inferior, the bright, curious Elle-Marja feels driven to reject her Sámi heritage and stake out a future of her own.
In her feature debut, Kernell depicts a little-known piece of Swedish history with tenderness, melancholy, and intimacy. Young actress Lene Cecilia Sparrok heartbreakingly embodies the quiet devastation that fuels Elle-Marja’s steely determination to forge a different path after being confronted with her own otherness.