Deep in the snowy woods of rural Estonia is a wooden shack housing a sauna that sustains an ancient folk tradition and stands as a temple to female solidarity. The smoke sauna is a place where women gather naked and unafraid to joke about men and their private parts, to tell stories, confess traumas, and to bond with a candor and trust that is possible nowhere else. Director Hints entered this dimly-lit inner sanctum with her camera, intimately documenting the beauty of the female body in close quarters–generous, wrinkled, careworn or plump as the case may be. Relaxing amid the smoky shadows, the women recount tales of friendship, family, and motherhood, and share pains and experiences unique to the lives of women. Best Director, World Cinema Documentary, 2023 Sundance Film Festival; Best Documentary Feature, 2023 San Francisco Film Festival; Estonia’s official submission for Oscar consideration. In Estonian with English subtitles.
“The small, smoky, steamy miracle of this film is how it creates something so intangible, so lyrical, from the absolutely elemental: fire, wood, water and lots of naked female flesh.”—Jessica Kiang, Variety
“Hypnotic, intimate and blisteringly honest. No topic is off limits.”—Tomris Laffly, Harper’s Bazaar