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Norway’s Mer Film Produces Social Issue Sami Musical Drama ‘Arru’ (EXCLUSIVE)

Mer Film, the well-established Norwegian film production banner, is reteaming with “Sami Boy” filmmaker Elle Sofe Sara on her feature debut “Arru.” The project will be pitched for the first time at the virtual Nordic Film Market, the industry program of the Goteborg Film Festival, whose full lineup has just been unveiled.

“Arru” is a musical drama set in Kautokeino, a small Sami village in Northern Norway. The film tells the journey of Kari, a Sami artist and single parent who is dragged along with her son into an activist campaign against the development of mines in reindeer herding areas. As the battle against the mines escalates, Kari meets a young girl who brings back a painful memory from her youth, when she lied to protect a family member. The film explores the issue of abuse within the Sami herding community.

Elisa Fernanda Pirir Ruiz, who is producing “Arru” at Mer Film, said she had previously worked with Sofe Sara on her short “Sami Boy” and was eager to follow her on her debut.

“Elle Sofe Sara is a really talented and politically-minded filmmaker and choreographer who has worked a lot with dance and music, and strives to convey difficult things through the body,” said Pirir Ruiz, who described the film as a “‘Dancer in the Dark’ meets ‘Three Billboards Outside Ebbing.'”

The producer said she was drawn to the originality of the project and the profile of Sofe Sara who is herself a reindeer herder. “Arru” will be filming in Kautokeino, the Sami village in Northern Norway where the director lives.

The producer said Mer Film is planning to shoot the film in the Fall of 2022 and will be looking for a sales company and a co-producer at the virtual Nordic Film Market. “Arru” is being supported by the Norwegian Film Institute.

The cast of the film will be mainly made up of Sami newcomers and non-professionals with the exception of a few roles for more confirmed Sami talent.

Mer Film is a production and distribution banner founded by Maria Ekerhovd in 2011. The company’s recent credits include Iram Haq’s “What Will People Say,” which played at Toronto in 2017 and Jorunn Myklebust Syversen’s “Disco” which screned at Toronto and San Sebastian in 2019.

The company’s slate of upcoming titles include Itonje Søimer Guttormsen’s feature film debut “Gritt” which is competing at the Rotterdam and Göteborg film festivals. The banner also produced Eskil Vogt’s sophomore feature film, “The Innocents,” and co-produced Jonas Poher Rasmussen’s buzzy documentary “Flee” which will premiere at Sundance and at Goteborg.

Later this year, Mer Film will start production on its two biggest productions to date, the historical dramas “Let The River Flow” by Ole Giæver and “War Sailor” by Gunnar Vikene.

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