ABOUT THE FILM:
Amid Iceland’s majestic wilderness, a lava field of ecological importance is about to be demolished by the largest bulldozer in the country. Standing in front of that bulldozer is Ragga: grandmother of three, environmentalist and celebrated “seer” into the invisible realms. She and her fellow activists are arrested here for protesting the construction of a needless road –just one of the many ill-conceived development projects aimed at rebuilding the Icelandic economy after 2008’s banking collapse and global financial crisis. Beyond the ecological devastation the road would cause, Ragga has an emotional connection to the lava field: the bulldozers are demolishing the homes of elves - invisible beings who inhabit the lava and whom she considers friends.
Ragga is a “seer” who possesses “second sight,” the ability to communicate directly with a parallel realm of elves. The belief in elves has been a part of Iceland’s culture for centuries and to this day, over half of the country believes in their existence. Akin to animism, elves are thought of as spirit-like caretakers of nature who live alongside humans. However, if humans violate boundaries between the visible and invisible worlds, there can be serious repercussions. As one of Iceland’s most respected seers, governmental officials, businesses and individuals call upon Ragga to consult the elves in order to learn where they can and cannot develop land. Due to this rare gift, the burden of stopping the road from destroying the elves’ homes– and, a massive lava boulder thought to be an “Elf Church”– rests heavy on Ragga’s shoulders.
Winter falls on the Arctic landscape as road construction continues, revealing the forces driving this increasingly absurd-seeming construction. While roads once symbolized the deeply felt national dream to connect this rural country together, through Lárus - Ragga’s husband and former employee of an investment firm - we learn that now, these types of projects epitomize the excesses that have come to define Iceland’s economic landscape. In the 2000s, Iceland dogmatically embraced “the invisible hand of the free market.” Foreign capital flooded the country; Icelandic banks borrowed over ten times the country’s income, ballooning the debt to 850% of the country’s GDP. However, when foreign creditors began to realize Icelandic banks couldn’t sustain the inflated growth, they recalled their loans, exposing that the money that drove the economy was essentially built on IOUs. The speculative wealth vanished and the country went bankrupt. The belief in this great economic conquest - waged by the “New Vikings” as they were called - was revealed to be a myth. Ragga jokes, “Where actually is that money that drove the rise and fall? I think it’s more invisible than the elf world. I hardly ever see money, but I see a lot of elves!”
Told through verite magic realism, the film follows Ragga’s story over the course of two tumultuous yet ultimately victorious years. A microcosm for human relationships to nature, economy and the enchanting power of belief, the film explores the invisible forces – be they elves or capitalism – that shape our visible worlds and transform our natural landscapes.