Aili Keskitalo

Jan 11, 2023

The Sámi in "Frozen" (Part 1)

An interview with Aili Keskitalo

New Books Network 2023

Despite the box-office and critical success of Walt Disney Animation Studios' 2013 film Frozen, it also drew criticism and backlash for how it incorporated elements of the culture and heritage of the Sámi, the Indigenous people of northern Sweden, Finland, Norway, and Russia. Sámi representatives had not been consulted in the making of Frozen, and the film's use of elements of Sámi culture such as music and clothing came as a surprise to the Sámi community. In response, when the film's sequel was announced, Sámi organizers forged a partnership with Walt Disney Animation Studios in which a group of Sámi experts offered creative consultation and input on the representation of the Sámi in Frozen 2. In this episode, I speak with Aili Keskitalo, who helped organize the collaboration with Walt Disney Animation Studios during her tenure as President of the Sámi Parliament of Norway, about working with WDAS, Sámi politics, the impact of the Frozen films on the Sámi community, and the importance of telling Indigenous stories with Indigenous voices.

The agreement signed between Sámi representatives and Walt Disney Animation Studios is available here.

This episode is part one of a two-part series on the Sámi in Disney's Frozen movies; part two, focusing on representations of Sámi culture and folklore in Frozen, can be found here.

Music in this episode: Desert City by Kevin MacLeod. License.

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Maggie Freeman

Maggie Freeman is a PhD student in the School of Architecture at MIT. She researches uses of architecture by nomadic peoples and historical interactions of nomads and empires, with a focus on the modern Middle East.

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