ANNA HINTS on SMOKE SAUNA SISTERHOOD (HotDocs2023) – Liz Braun interviews

European saunas have existed since about 2,000 BC. In the Southern region of Estonia, where Hints grew up, the smoke sauna has been added to the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Smoke Sauna Sisterhood unfolds against a backdrop of women talking. Naked physically and emotionally, the women unburden themselves of secrets and tough experiences in the security of the small, womb-like sauna space. From initial talk of beauty and body image the women slowly begin to talk of deeper issues: love and death, sex and violence, health and childbearing.

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SMOKE SAUNA SISTERHOOD (HotDocs2023) – Review by Liz Braun

Smoke Sauna Sisterhood is a movie about women talking and celebrating the matriarchy, an excellent entry in that rare hey-fellas-this-is-not-about-you film genre. Award-winning Estonian filmmaker Anna Hints offers an inside look at the age-old ritual of steam baths in her country in Smoke Sauna Sisterhood. These traditional sauna huts offer a safe space for women to gather to cleanse body and soul. The documentary explains that in the past the sauna was where women gave birth and where they washed dead bodies in preparation for burial. They are sacred places.

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