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NATIVe - Sumé The Sound of a Revolution
by Becky Tan

The section of films under the title NATIVe was introduced at the Berlinale in 2013. Four years later, one film, which was made in 2014 and showed in the 2015 Berlinale Panorama section, returned in 2017 for a repeat. This was definitely justified, due to the film’s excellence.

Sumé The Sound of a Revolution
Inuk Silis Høegh, Greenland/Denmark/Norway

This documentary features the first rock band in Greenland, Sumé, to sing in its native language: Greenlandic. The debut album appeared in 1973 and reflected a new wave of patriotism which was slowly appearing among the population. Until the 1970s Greenland seemed to be a pile of snow and few people, all dependent on Denmark for government, industry, and education. This impression was unfair, obvious even to the residents, who began to be proud of their own country. Sumé sang about independence, citizenship, love, and their Inuit identity, which emphasized this feeling. Boss and lead singer was Malik Hoegh, who wrote the songs, together with guitarist Per Berthelsen. They were typical of Greenland’s youth in those days in that they studied in Copenhagen and worked out of Denmark, although they returned to their home country to tour with the band. Malik said that they “had to be better than the Danish.” After the band members went their different ways, it was 14 years before they met again; they appeared in the film to talk about their memories of the band’s three albums.

Director Silis Høegh (no relationship between singer and director) was born in 1972, one year before the first Sumé album appeared. Twenty years later Høegh began researching the band for his film – an undertaking which was difficult since there was very little archival material. It seems that in 1973, there were few cameras in Greenland; nobody was taking photos. This is so hard to fathom considering that these days everyone has his/her mobile phone out, snapping photos, especially at the Berlinale.