The Great Northern: Smoke Sauna Sisterhood


Coming Soon Tue, Jan 9 12:00 PM
The Main 3 Sat, Jan 27 7:00 PM
Film Info
Program:The Great Northern
Release Year:2023
Runtime:89 min
Print Source:Greenwich Entertainment
Women Directors
Health & Wellness
Director:Anna Hints
Cinematographer:Ants Tammik
Screenwriter:Anna Hints
Editor:Hendrik Mägar
Tushar Prakash
Composer:Edvard Egilsson


Screening Event Saturday, January 27

Reception at 6:30 PM • Screening at 7:00 PM

Post-screening conversation with sauna enthusiasts Jen Gilhoi from Sauna & Sobriety and MSPIFF Programmer Kathie Smith.

About the film

Estonia's Official Entry for Best International Feature Film at 96th Academy Awards

Women share their innermost secrets and intimate experiences inside an Estonian smoke sauna. Cleansing their bodies and baring their souls, they embrace the healing power of sisterhood. Anna Hints’ Sundance-winning documentary celebrates the centuries-old smoke sauna tradition, recognized on the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

No story too shameful, no burden too heavy to carry when you share it with your sisterhood... The Vana-Võromaa (region in South Estonia) smoke sauna tradition known as “savvusanna kombõ” and listed in the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, is one of connecting family and friends to cleanse body and soul inside a place of peace and contemplation. Conflicts are left outside. In Filmmaker Anna Hints’ Smoke Sauna Sisterhood, the history of the smoke saunas as a place of giving birth inspired them to focus on women who "come together in the protective darkness of the smoke sauna, share their deepest secrets and wash off the shame that has accumulated in their bodies."

The first documentary by an Estonian director to compete and win at Sundance, Smoke Sauna Sisterhood is a deeply moving, intimate and breathtaking approach to issues of trauma, healing, and community. Filmed almost as if a Vermeer or Rembrandt painting, the camera is never intrusive, never mechanical. Rather, the images move as the smoke – lingering, wafting, suspended briefly before disappearing and reappearing. With an authentic voice and authority born of their own heritage, filmmaker Anna Hints has created a transformative experience of being human within a female body, showing women "as they are" with great emotional veracity and deep empathy.

Filmmaker Bio

Anna Hints is an Estonian film director with a background in contemporary art and experimental folk music. Having deep roots in the distinct culture of South Estonia, Anna’s second home is in India. As an active dumpster diver, Anna’s short documentary For Tomorrow Paradise Arrives (2021) initiated public discussion and growth of new grassroot movements against food waste in Estonia. Anna’s first feature documentary Smoke Sauna Sisterhood premiered at Sundance Film Festival World Cinema Documentary Competition program in January 2023 with Anna winning the Directing Award. After that the film won McBaine Feature Documentary Award at San Francisco International Film Festival Golden Gate Awards, Eurimages Audentia Award for the Best Female Director, two more awards and got nominated for LUX - The European Audience Film Award by European Parliament and European Film Academy. Anna’s upcoming short fiction Weight of Light (2024) depicts the life of female rag pickers in Delhi. Anna is a singer in the electronic-folk trio EETER that was nominated in the Best Film Music category at the Estonian Film and TV Awards 2018. EETER collaborated with Icelandic composer Edvard Egilsson for the original score of Smoke Sauna Sisterhood. Anna is currently pursuing a Masters Degree at the Department of Drama of the Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre.

Book your experience at The Great Northern Sauna Village, Fri, Jan 19–Sun, Feb 4.

About The Great Northern | Jan 25–Feb 4, 2024

The Great Northern celebrates our cold, creative winters through diverse programming that invigorates mind and body in late January and early February. In an era of changing climate that threatens our signature season, we seek to create community, inspire action, and share the resilient spirit of the North with the world.

About MSP Film

The films are curated by the MSP Film, whose mission is to inform and transform individuals and communities through the power of great cinema. MSP Film has spent the last six decades celebrating a myriad of cultures, countries and issues of collective local and global concern through film, believing in the potency of storytelling to move people, and to move people to action. Our widely recognized Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival, Cine Latino, or daily screenings at The Main Cinema represent a diversity of perspectives and 100+ cultures and countries each year, providing unique platforms for learning and action through film and conversation.