Grandfather's language

In the early 1920s Spanish flu left Inari sami Ulpu’s (40y) grandfather Movsháá Hannu as an orphan. Hannu and his little siblings had to move to an Riutula orphanage, where the sami children weren’t allowed to speak their native language. The orphanage left it’s marks onto Hannu, and likewise many other sami children of the Riutula orphanage, Hannu decided not to speak his native language to his own children. The Inari sami was spoken only with adults, behind closed doors.
Now, 100 years after Hannu was in the orphanage, Hannu’s granddaughter Ulpu, has learned Inari sami language and taken the first steps to take back her ancestors language and to introduce it as her family’s language. Ulpu’s and many other Inari sami family’s task at hand is massive, but the courage of Ulpu lays faith to the language resuscitation. The language trauma is easing.

  • Jukka Veikko Vuorela-Morottaja
  • Erkki Feodoroff
  • Ulpu Mattus-Kumpunen
    Key Cast
  • Project Title (Original Language):
    Isoisäni kieli
  • Project Type:
    Documentary, Student
  • Runtime:
    29 minutes 54 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    January 20, 2023
  • Country of Origin:
  • Country of Filming:
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
    Yes - The Sámi education institute
  • Skábmagovat
    January 29, 2023
    World premiere
    Official selection
  • Riddu riđđu
    July 15, 2023
    Official selection
Director Biography - Jukka Veikko Vuorela-Morottaja

I am Jukka Vuorela-Morottaja, filmmaker and a screenwriter from Inari.

Isoisäni kieli -documentary is my first film as a director. Before this I’ve worked in the film industry as freelancer animator for the Inari Sámi language ”Unna Junná” children program
and as an assistant location manager in a Skolt Sámi ”Je’Vida” feature film produced by Oktober Oy.

I feel that I’ve been extremely lucky to have been able to work with highly professional people. I’ve been able to trust that the solution to a problem can be always found near. For that I am grateful.

As a filmmaker and as a storyteller I’m keen to stories that touch me personally. It might sound a bit cliche, but I truly believe that the best stories and movies are made when the filmmaker has a personal bond to the subject.

Add Director Biography
Director Statement

For me this story is personally important.
My wife is Inari Sámi and she also learned Finnish as her first language and later the Inari Sámi language. I’ve also studied Inari Sámi language as an adult and if we are ever blessed with children, then their first language will be Inari Sámi.
It is very important for me to understand the history of the Inari Sámi people and especially important it is for me to understand the history of the language. This ables for me to understand my wife and our future children better.

In generally Ulpu’s story Is important, because it is very similar to a many Inari Sámi person who has been trying to ”take back” their familys first languager. This is experience is shared not only within in the Inari Sámi people, but also within other Sámi cultures. Within the Skolt Sámi for example.
It is important that these matters are being said publicly, so that the people wouldn’t feel like they are alone with these issues and that they could find support from peers if neccesary.

As a topic the loss of the language isn’t new, but Ulpu’s story opens up the world of the Inari Sámi people to the audience at least a little bit. It shows how big and long influence it has had when only one generation didn’t learn Inari Sámi as their first language.

It has been now over 100 years since Ulpu’s Grandfather lost his family, home and his language. Since then, three generations have learned some other language as their first language instead of Inari Sámi. And it is not sure that if even the next, the fourth generation, will embrace the Inari Sámi language as their first and emotional language.

ISOISÄNI KIELI – documentary will help the audience to understand why it is very important, that the future Inari Sámi generations will be spoken Inari Sámi language from the very birth if we really want to revitalize the Inari Sámi language.