TIFF 2023’s ‘The Tundra Within Me’ directed by Sara Margrethe Oskal set amidst reindeer herding

Asha Bajaj
3 min readSep 19
TIFF. Photo courtesy: TIFF

Toronto: In a cinematic world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), Norwegian filmmaker Sara Margrethe Oskal’s debut feature, ‘The Tundra Within Me’, was screened taking the audience on a visually stunning and emotionally resonant expedition to the snow-covered landscapes of Sápmi in northern Norway.

This evocative narrative navigates the intricate threads of love, heritage, and self-discovery amidst the reindeer herds of Scandinavia.


After years spent in the bustling city of Oslo, Lena (Risten Anine Kvernmo Gaup) makes a life-altering decision to return to her roots in Sápmi, embracing her Sami heritage. Accompanied by her young son, Lena embarks on an art project that delves into the nuances of Sami’s gender identity.

Against the backdrop of the wintry tundra, Lena’s exploration of cultural expression leads her to an unexpected encounter with Máhtte, a charismatic reindeer herder.

Their love blossoms amidst the breathtaking beauty of the region, but it encounters resistance from Máhtte’s mother, the matriarch of their herding family. As Lena’s past decisions cast a shadow over her newfound happiness, she grapples with the profound question of whether her and Máhtte’s contrasting lifestyles can ever find harmony.

Director’s Vision

Director Sara Margrethe Oskal, drawing from her own experiences as a former professional reindeer herder who transitioned to an artist, brings a deeply personal perspective to ‘The Tundra Within Me’.

In her poignant director’s statement, Oskal highlights the challenges faced by Saami youth who must navigate the delicate balance between traditional values and the allure of modern urban life.

“I want to dig into the feeling of not belonging in the traditional society where

Asha Bajaj

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