With a tiny population spread across the outer reaches of Scandinavia, it seems incredible that the indigenous Sami people can boast of a film-making culture.
Yet the town of Kautokeino, based in the northern most part of Norway and with just 3,000 inhabitants, already boasts one Oscar-nominated director, Nils Gaup. His renowned 1987 film Pathfinder was the first feature to be shot in the Sami language.
Now a second Sami film is about to be released. Road movie Bazo wrapped last week in Kautokeino and is the feature film debut from television veteran Lars Göran Petterson. The story takes place in the land of the Sami, who form an ethnic minority in Norway (30-40,000), Sweden (20,000), Finland (6,000) and Russia (2,000).
Bazo deals with a determined young man who reclaims his Sami heritage after the death of older brother. Nicknamed Bazo, which means a slightly retarded person in Sami, he leaves his father and the family farm to journey through the mysterious landscape of the Sami. He then finds out that his brother was killed by local Sami gangsters, finds a nephew, an old Mercedes and a promising love-encounter with his brother's former girlfriend.
Sami actor Sverre Porsanger, who had his debut as a boy with the lead in Pathfinder, plays Bazo and Sweden's Gøran Forsmark (The Hunters) plays his brother.
Director Petterson previously worked with Swedish Television as director, producer and editor, but like producer Nils Thomas Utsi makes his feature debut with Bazo. Utzi's outfit Filbmagoahti co-produces the film with Denmark's Mikael Olsen (One Hand Clapping) of Zentropa.
The NKR14m project has received backing from the Norwegian Film Fund US$773,000 (NKR5,8m), Nordic Film- & TV Fund, the Danish Film Institute, Eurimages, Film Form AB, TV2/Norway and FilmPool Nord. It will be released by Norwegian distributor Scandinavian Entertainment Group (SEG) for Easter 2003