Marja Helander’s Birds in the Earth selected for the Official Short Film Section of Sundance Film Festival

Marja Helander’s Eatnanvuloš Lottit – Birds in the Earth (2018) was picked among 20 international short films competing in the Official Short Film Section of Sundance Film Festival, held from January 24 to February 3 in Park City, Utah. Being the major showcase for independent films, Sundance Film Festival is one of the biggest and most acknowledged film festival in the North America.

“This year’s crop of shorts are rowdy, reflective, visionary — we are excited to discover so many new voices and perspectives on today’s world”, comments the senior programmer Mike Plante in the festival’s press release.

Birds in the Earth is a short film based on dance. The main characters are two young Sámi ballet students; Birit and Katja Haarla. The movie tells a bit melancholic story through their dance performances. At the same time it examines the deeper questions of the ownership of Sámi land.

“I am extremely happy and honoured on behalf of our entire team for this great opportunity to show Eatnanvuloš Lottit – Birds in the Earth at Sundance Film Festival. I of course hope that these screenings open new doors for those contributed to the film and boost their work in the moving image field. Moreover, it is always wonderful to promote both Sami and Finnish film abroad!” says Helander.

Marja Helander (b.1965) is a Finnish photographic and video artist. She graduated from the University of Art and Design in Helsinki in 1999. Her earlier work explored her own identity between the Finnish and the Sámi culture. Helander’s recent photographic work has focused on Northern landscape. The accent of the work is on the postcolonial topics in the Sámi area, focusing particularly on the global mining industry. The encounter between nature and mankind is not harmonious, but destructive. On the other hand, her video works are playful, exploring the contradiction between the traditional Sámi way of life and the modern society.

Marja Helander has participated in solo and group exhibitions and her works have been acquired for various public collections in Finland and abroad. Birds in the Earth has also been awarded as the best short fiction film at Northern Character Film & TV Festival, Murmansk and as the best experimental work at ImagineNative Film + Media Arts Festival, Toronto. The film won both the Main Prize of the national short film competition and the Risto Jarva Prize at Tampere Film Festival.

More information: AV-arkki