Written, Directed and Produced by Janet Merewether



Inghilda Tapio is an inspirational writer and performer and one of the last generation of Saami reindeer herders born to nomadic parents in Saapmi, Sweden's Arctic Circle. This latest documentary by award-winning director Janet Merewether is an inspiring tale of Indigenous cultural survival.

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L J Harper

Now selected in NSW as Stage 6 Prescribed Text for the HSC English Standard course! (HSC Year 12 : Module A: Language, Identity and Culture)


Inghilda Tapio is one of the last generation of Indigenous children born into a nomadic Saami reindeer herding family in the Arctic Circle, and is now an inspirational poet and performer.

Born into a nomadic Saami reindeer herding family after WWII, Inghilda is a member of Sweden's own 'stolen generation,' forced by the Swedish government to attend residential boarding schools in the early 1950s. At the age of seven, Inghilda was removed from her teepee home, reindeer herds and Saami parents for months at a time, isolated and confused by the difficult Swedish language, intimidated by the unfamiliar school environment and foreign customs.

Despite these challenges, Inghilda continued on to university to become a poet, performer, teacher and international representative for Saami writers. She lives most of the year in Karesuando, on the border between Sweden and Finland, over two hundred kilometres north of the Arctic Circle. Her extended family members continue their herding traditions in Saapmi, which is their preferred name for the northern regions of Sweden, Norway, Sweden and Russia, previously referred to as Lapland.

Inghilda's Saami community has survived centuries of attempted cultural assimilation and Christian indoctrination by the Swedes, and now faces new threats posed by mining, forestry and hydroelectric development, as the reindeer's ancient migratory routes are disrupted, and traditional cultural practices threatened.

One of Europe's last Indigenous cultures, and an ethnic minority in Sweden numbering less than 20,000 people, the Saami are regaining their voice to fight for independence for their culture and traditional lands.

This innovative documentary by award-winning director Janet Merewether blends English and Northern Saami languages to present the life of a woman who is passionate about preserving her Northern Saami language and culture for future generations.


NOMINATED for two categories at the ATOM (Australian Teachers of Media) awards.
Best Australian Documentary Biography & Best Indigenous Resource

NOMINATED for Best Documentary Script - Australian Writers' Guild Awgie Awards
NOMINATED for Margaret Mead Filmmaker Award


See the film’s Facebook page for links and bookings


Sydney screenings - Palace Norton Street and Verona cinemas
Melbourne screenings - Como and Brighton Bay cinemas

Festivals and screenings include:
Scandinavian Film Festival (Palace Cinemas)
Margaret Mead Film Festival, New York
Nordic Lights Film Festival, Seattle
Arizona Film Festival, Tucson
Dungog Film Festival
Ozdox, AFTRS

The Participants



Director/Producer - Janet Merewether
Cinematographer - Janet Merewether
Camera Assistant - Arlo Merewether
Editors - Henry Dangar A.S.E. & Jane St Vincent Welch A.S.E.
Additional Editing - Walter McIntosh & Peter Humble
Sound Design - Liam Egan
Sound Mix - Robert Sullivan
Original Composer - Felicity Wilcox
Poetry Translators - Anthony Selbourne, Pekka Sammallahti, Ralph Salisbury, Lars Nordström


Sound artists and musicians featured on the soundtrack:
Ben Frost, Oren Ambarchi, Jasmine Guffond, Billy Tha Kidd, Julian Knowles, Isnod, Endophonic, Sense, Low Key Operations, Ok Tokyo, Shannon O'Neill, QUA.

Yoiks by Sara Marielle Gaup, Johan NN Eira andJohn Steinar Baal (John Stone Fire)

Janet Merewether

Dr Janet Merewether is an award-winning filmmaker, media artist, designer and academic.

Her film, digital art and documentary works produced by Go Girl Productions and Screen Culture include Jabe Babe - A Heightened Life and Maverick Mother, garnering numerous Australian and international prizes including ATOM, IF, AFI and TIDF Awards. Her films and videos have won awards at the Sydney Film Festival and Videobrasil, have enjoyed retrospectives in Taipei, Berlin, Boston and Australia, as well as being invited to the New York Film Festival, New Directors/New Films MoMA, Tampere, Uppsala, EMAF, Impakt, Sheffield Doc/Fest, DOK Leipzig and TIDF.

A graduate of the AFTRS, Merewether completed her doctoral degree at UTS in 2008 on the subject of innovative hybrid documentary and continues to explore new visual strategies in television, media art and feature documentary.

Download Academic Profile

Inghilda Tapio

Born Inger Gunhild Maria Valkeapää, Inghilda Tapio studied at Umeå University and worked as a teacher and actress at the Dalvadis Saami theatre. Prior to her first poetry collection published by DAT Ii fal dan dihte, 1995, she published three children's books as well as poems in different journals and publications. Inghilda Tapio served as co-ordinator of Saami writers in the European Writers' Association and has studied art and film production. Today she continues her writing and translating work for television in the Nordic regions.

Production Company - Screen Culture

Screen Culture Pty Limited, founded by award-winning director/producer Dr Janet Merewether in 2007, is engaged in the production of visually creative quality long-form documentary and media programs for the Australian and International marketplace. Screen Culture's productions are distinctively provocative, progressive and playful. The company promotes the creative expression of ideas through the integration of sophisticated visual design with compelling storytelling.

Production Notes

DirectorJanet Merewether
ProducerJanet Merewether
WriterJanet Merewether
Production CompanyScreen Culture Pty Limited, Australia.
Key ParticipantInghilda Tapio and family
LanguageEnglish with Northern Saami
Aspect Ratio16:9
Duration70 mins + TV versions
Sound5.1 & Stereo
Shooting GaugesShoot SD & HD, Completion format HDSR
Shooting LocationsSweden, Norway
Keyword CategoriesBiography, Environment, Arts, Indigenous, Natural History, Culture, Women, Human Rights, Creative Documentary
Target AudienceSuitable for all ages, Indigenous & non-Indigenous viewers

Produced by

Financed with the assistance of

Previous films by Janet Merewether


(Screen Culture, 2007, 52mins, SBS)

At 39, Janet's biological clock was chiming a deafening 'tic-toc'. A film about solo motherhood by choice and the contemporary role of the father.

WINNER - Audience Award - TIDF Taiwan International Documentary Festival 2008
WINNER - Jury Special Mention - TIDF Taiwan International Documentary Festival 2008
WINNER Best Australian Documentary - General and Human Interest Categories - ATOM Awards 2008
NOMINATION for Best Directing - Documentary - Australian Directors' Guild Awards
NOMINATION for Best Editing Documentary - Australian Screen Editors' Awards 2008

'this documentary comes up trumps..'

(Weekend Australian - Review - Jill Rowbotham)

5 stars - Pick of the Day
'Historically you couldn't be a single woman and raise a child. Janet's story blossoms into a frantic and funny tale challenging the archetypal nuclear family. Fascinating.'

(5 Stars - Pick of the Day - Time Out Sydney - Ellice Mol)


(Go Girl Productions, 2005, 52mins, SBS)

A tall girl with a tall story, Jabe Babe lives with the life-threatening genetic condition Marfan Syndrome. This hybrid documentary provokes questions about society's desire for sexual, genetic and visual conformity.

WINNER - Merit Award - TIDF Taiwan International Documentary Festival 2006
WINNER - AFI Award for Best Directing in Documentary 2005
WINNER - IF Discovery Award for Best Australian Documentary 2005
NOMINATION for FCCA (Film Critics Circle of Australia) Best Documentary 2005
NOMINATION for AFI Award for Outstanding Craft - Production Design 2005
NOMINATION for AFI Award for Best Australian Documentary 2005.

"Blisteringly inventive and visually out-there, the latest film from acclaimed Sydney film-maker Janet Merewether is nothing if not genre-shattering…."

(Lynden Barber - Director - Sydney Film Festival 2005)

"..This is a documentary with a difference…It's one of the most visually original films in the festival."

(Julie Rigg ABC Radio National - 'The Deep End' - Sydney Film Festival Review)

"Jabe Babe is exemplary, inventive documentary filmmaking, a rich hybrid of imaginative projection and documentary reflection.. (

Keith Gallasch - 'Factual Fantasy' - Realtime)

"Images are embedded in images in a tour de force of directorial imagination.."

(Frances Bonner - Brisbane International Film Festival)

"Inspired by films like American Splendor..Errol Morris documentaries and Alice in Wonderland, the film is highly stylised and wildly imaginative, an extraordinary film for an extraordinary life.."

(Brisbane International Film Festival)

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