DER Documentary

The Last Yoik in Saami Forests?


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by Hannu Hyvönen
color, 60 min, 2007




Non-profit and K-12 pricing also available
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Made for the United Nations, this documentary chronicles the logging damage that has taken place in the forests of Finnish Lapland over the past 50 years. Home to the indigenous Saami peoples, these Northern old growth forests are essential to Saami reindeer herding, a traditional way of life that the Saami hope to continue into future generations. Population growth in Finland has created economic pressure - prompting migration to the Saami lands in the North. The resulting forest cutting severely depletes the lichen necessary for free reindeer grazing, and logging infrastructure disrupts the entire forest ecosystem.

A tense conflict emerges between the alliance of Greenpeace and Saami activists, who in 2005 set up a "Forest Rescue Station" in the woods to stop the cutting, and logging workers, worried about losing their jobs, who create their own "anti-terror camp" in response. The situation becomes dramatic as those in the "anti-terror" camp continually assault the Greenpeace workers with noise and threatening behavior.

Last Yoik in Saami Forests? implicates the state-owned logging company Metsahallitus in the exploitation of Saami resources, and shows that the Finnish government has done little to preserve this natural resource. The film explores possible economic alternatives to logging, such as tourism, as well as more efficient uses for Lappish timber than paper pulp, fuel or railways stocks - the wood is an excellent building material that could be commanding a higher price. The issue of indigenous land rights is the heart of the problem, and as of the completion of this film in 2007, it remains unresolved.

"The Last Yoik in Saami Forests? is a deeply stirring documentary. It makes us understand how far away international politics still are from an effective protection of ecological and cultural diversity. And it makes us feel the absolutely crucial importance of personal commitment and integrity for the future of our children and our planet." — Hildegarde Kurt, PhD, Institute for Art, Culture and Sustainability, Berlin

This DVD contains additional information about the plight of Saamiland:

  • Same Sad Story Around the Globe w/ Amaranta Cornejo Hernandez (2:55)
  • What's Behind the Battles? w/ David Walsh, Greenpeace (1:18)
  • Consulting the Destruction? (10:02)
  • Niilas Somby - Yoiking the Saamiland (9:43)
  • The Future of Lake Inari? (6:53)

Stay informed on the elonmerkki website.

Film Festivals, Screenings, Awards
Global premiere, New York, May 2006
Finnish premiere, Helsinki Social Forum, May 2006
Norwegian premiere, Riddu Riddu festival, July 2006
Tampere Film Festival, 2006
Mid Night Sun Film Festival, Sodankylä, Finland, 2007
German premier, Globians Filmfestival, 2007
Canadian premiere, Moose Cree first nations forestry information session, October 2007
Planet in Focus film festival, Canada, 2007
The Kettupäivät - Finnish Short and Documentary Film Festival, 2007
Taiwan premier, Migration Music Festival, 2007
Indian premiere, ViBGYOR Film Festival, 2008
United States premier, EarthVision International Environmental Film Festival, March 2008
Hazel Wolf Environmental Film Festival, Seattle, WA, 2008
Green Film Festival, Seoul, Korea, 2008
Best Topical Relevance & Interpretation, Nepal International Indigenous Film Festival, 2008
National Museum of the American Indian, New York, 2008
Best Film on Survival of Indigenous People, XXII Pärnu International Film Festival, Estonia, 2008 Document 6 - International Human Rights Film Festival, Scotland, 2008
Festival International du Film d'Environnement, Cinema La Pagode, Paris, 2008
Cine Gaia - International Environmental Film Festival, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 2008
Lens Politica - Film and Media Art Festival, Finland, 2008
Special Environmental Award, Wildlife Vaasa, Finland, 2008
"Ownership and Appropriation," Joint Conference of the ASA, the ASAANZ and the AAS, University of Auckland, New Zealand, 2008
Matsalu Nature Film Festival, Estonia, 2008
Eyes & Lenses IV - Ethnographic Film Festival, Poland, 2008
The Mihail Cantacuzino High School Sinaia Prize, Green Planet Blues - Environmental Film Festival, Sinaia, Romania, 2009
Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival, Ithaca, NY, 2009
University of British Columbia Ethnographic Film Festival, Canada, 2009
Festival Internacional de Cine Ecológico y de la Naturaleza de Canarias, Spain, 2009
GREEN SCREEN - 3rd International Nature Film Festival, Germany, 2009
Parliament of the World's Religions, Melbourne, Australia, 2009

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