Smoke Sauna Sisterhood

In this lyrical documentary women share their innermost secrets and intimate experiences in the darkness of a southern Estonian smoke sauna. The drops of sweat wash away the shame; in the heat of the cabin, sisterhoods are forged.

Please note that this film is in Estonian, with Dutch subtitles.
Time & Tickets

Filmed over five years, director Anna Hints captures an intimate space where women gather to not just cleanse their bodies, but also their souls. The sauna-based rituals carried out by women of the Voro community of Estonia is so unique they appear on UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage List. SMOKE SAUNA SISTERHOOD places us at the heart of this world. As the women unwind and talk, there is humour borne of their familiarity with each other and of shared experiences, but there are also tales of pain and suffering. With few key exceptions, Hints’ camera focuses on the women listening rather than those doing the talking, further enveloping us in this world. There is a frankness to the way she films her subjects – the close-ups on bodies are matter of fact and never salacious. And the subtle sound design, combined with Edvard Egilsson’s atmospheric choral score, adds to the uniqueness of this intimate environment. The audience is invited to join in this cathartic and unforgettable experience.

SMOKE SAUNA SISTERHOOD made a triumphant tour of several film festivals last year and was awarded the prize for best director in the ‘world cinema – documentary’ category at Sundance.

Anna Hints, Estonia, France, Iceland, 2023, 89 min. Estisch spoken, Dutch subtitles.