Director: Anna Hints
2024, Estonia, France, Iceland, 89min., NR
Language: Estonian with English subtitles
No story too shameful, no burden too heavy to carry when you share it with your sisterhood… The Vana-Võromaa (region in South Estonia) smoke sauna tradition known as “savvusanna kombõ” and listed in the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, is one of connecting family and friends to cleanse body and soul inside a place of peace and contemplation. Conflicts are left outside. In Filmmaker Anna Hints’ SMOKE SAUNA SISTERHOOD, the history of the smoke saunas as a place of giving birth inspired them to focus on women who “come together in the protective darkness of the smoke sauna, share their deepest secrets and wash off the shame that has accumulated in their bodies”.
The first documentary by an Estonian director to compete and win at Sundance, SMOKE
SAUNA SISTERHOOD is a deeply moving, intimate and breathtaking approach to issues of
trauma, healing, and community. Filmed almost as if a Vermeer or Rembrandt painting, the
camera is never intrusive, never mechanical. Rather, the images move as the smoke – lingering, wafting, suspended briefly before disappearing and reappearing. With an authentic voice and authority born of their own heritage, filmmaker Anna Hints has created a transformative experience of being human within a female body, showing women “as they are” with great emotional veracity and deep empathy.