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Arctic cultures take climate fight to Berlin film fest

They are fighting to preserve their ancient lifestyles and the very ground under their feet as the Arctic ice cap shrinks and the tundra’s permafrost slowly turns to mush.

Polar circle film-makers at this year’s Berlin Film Festival are taking a cold, hard look at the plight of the indigenous people on the frontlines of climate change.

In a top-down view of the planet, the NATIVe showcase features films from the icy northern latitudes of Scandinavia, Siberia, Alaska, Canada, Iceland and Greenland.

The common theme is the twin threat faced by native peoples who have traditionally herded reindeer or caribou, or hunted seals and whales before nation-states put them into permanent towns and their children into residential schools.

In the historical documentary “Kaisa’s Enchanted Forest,” director Katja Gauriloff tells the story of her late great-grandmother Kaisa, a weathered matriarch of Finland’s Skolt Sami minority.

Using old black-and-white footage, it portrays the simple life of the semi-nomadic Sami in summer lakeside cabins and winter block huts, their children riding reindeer and skating on frozen lakes.

Kaisa shares her folk wisdom and magical tales — she uses white bird feathers to sweep her hut because, she says, evil spirits mistake them for an angel’s wing.

The tale darkens when World War II destroys the Sami’s ancestral homes and forces them into camps where disease takes a heavy toll. They later move to a permanent settlement, their lives from now shaped by assimilation into Finland.

Agencies. Arctic cultures take climate fight to Berlin film fest. Pakistan Today, February 17, 2017.

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