20/21 Film Series: Anerca, Breath of Life

In April 2021, we marked English Language Day with 'Anerca, Breath of Life', a documentary that celebrates indigenous languages and cultures of the peoples in the Arctic Circle, the screening was followed by a live virtual conversation.

Anerca, Breath of Life

  • Documentary: Finland (2020)
  • Directors: Johannes Lehmuskallio and Markku Lehmuskallio
  • Running time: 87 mins
  • Languages: Finnish, Swedish, Sámi, Tlingit, Yupik, Inuit, Nenets, Selkup, Chukchi with English subtitles

Anerca is a film about the breathing amongst the indigenous peoples of the Arctic Circle within the borders of the states of Finland, Sweden, Norway, Greenland, Canada, Alaska and Russia. The cultures themselves did not draw up these borders. Rights have been violated. Ways of life inherited from ancestors have largely been crushed, but the inner worldview of the people has withstood and remained, at least until now.


Director Markku Lehmuskallio has had long connections to the indigenous peoples of the North and has been making films about their lives, art and music since 1970s. Lehmuskallio created contacts to the Sami people in the 1970s, worked on a documentary film about indigenous art with the Canadian Inuits and Greenland indigenous peoples in the 1980s. In 1990s he went to Soviet Union to work on his next film and met his future partner Anastasia Lapsui, a Nenets indigenous person. Lehmuskallio has lived 5 years in the Russian tundra with the nomad people. Lehmuskallio and Lapsui have made several documentary and narrative films together. He has seen how the cultures are withering in the changes of time, but also with this film aims through a cinematic means of expression show time to time the joys and pains of those depicted through image, sound and editing.

First published: 14 April 2021