Let the River Flow

by Ole Giaever

Based on real events that inspired a whole generation of young Norwegians to stand up. A gripping and moving portrayal of the indigenous people‘s struggle for survival.

During summer 1979, Ester moves to Alta in Northern Norway to begin teaching at an elementary school. Like many Sámi at the time, she is ashamed of her heritage and conceals her ethnicity. Ester goes to great lengths to fit in, even joining in with the derogatory jokes. When her cousin Mikkhal takes her to a camp by the Alta River, where people are demonstrating against the building of a dam, Ester learns how the fight for the river is also a revolt against the years of brutal racism and discrimination against her people. After a major confrontation with the police, Mikkhal and some other Sámi decide to go to Oslo to hunger strike in front of the Parliament. Knowing what is at stake, Ester realises it is time to make a stand…

Genre / Language / Length
Drama / Norwegian / 124 minutes
Original title
Ellos Eatnu - La Elva Leve
directed by
Ole Giaever
director of photography
Marius Matzow Guldbrandsen
screenplay by
Ole Giaever
produced by
Mer Film in co-production with Bufo, Zentropa Sweden, Helmet and Knudsen Pictures
  • Ella Marie Haetta Isaksen
  • Gard Emil
  • Sofia Jannok
  • Beaska Niillas
  • Marie Kvernmo

Press Quotes

“Heartbreaking and strong”

“A fantastic Film“

“A rare and important story”


“It's strongly about disgrace in Norwegian history”

"It tackles Sámi protests and longstanding discrimination with elegant dramatic means... in Giæver's hands, the realism gels well with the characters' emotional side. What is particularly striking about the way the Norwegian filmmaker tells this story of oppression in a lively, empathetic manner is its interpersonal honesty. In fact, the film is highly critical of the “Norwegianisation” demanded of the Sámi, which they often had to impose on themselves in order to gain the bare minimum respect. Exposing the brutality of such an assimilation can be a tricky thing to bring up in the discourse of your own country, but the responses to the film are telling. The fights of the Sámi do not go unrecognised, but they are far from over, as Let the River Flow warns us.“

Selected Festivals & Awards

Tromsø International Film Festival
Tromsø International Film Festival | Audience Award | awarded
Göteborg International Film Festival
Göteborg International Film Festival | Audience Award & Fipresci Prize | awarded
Seattle International Film Festival
Munich International Film Festival
Amanda Awards (Norwegian Film Awards) | Best Film & Best Director & Best Supporting Actor | awarded
International Historical Film Festival of Waterloo | Best Film | awarded
Arras International Film Festival "L'Autre Cinema"