Olga - To My Friends

Paul Anders Simma, Finland / Sweden / Norway, 2013, color, DCP, 58'

In the Russian part of Lapland, some 1,800 kilometers (1,100 miles) north of Moscow, winter temperatures dip down to the negative double digits. It's as white as the eye can see here, and there's hardly a human being to speak of. Here, Olga lives in a simple dwelling under a think layer of snow. She watches over the rations and vehicles of the reindeer herders, who won't return until spring. This year, she spent 177 days by herself, with only a cat to keep her company. Olga is the only woman in the reindeer brigade, and the work isn't without its dangers. Food often gets stolen, and she once came face to face with a bear and got run over by a herd of reindeer. But Olga feels right at home here. She grew up in an orphanage, and when her mother finally got some money together and came to pick her up, she felt like a stranger in her own family. She was the only one who didn't speak Saami, the local language, and her family members are all big drinkers – alcoholism is a major problem in the Saami community. When rumors circulate that the brigade is going to be shut down, she is truly worried. If Olga loses her job and her house, what will become of her?

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