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ICELANDIC WOMAN COMMUNICATES WITH ELVES & TRIES TO SAVE THE ENVIRONMENT IN A STRONG, SURPRISING DOC
Ragnhildur Jonsdottir, known as Ragga, is a gentle, thoughtful woman who says that since childhood she has been able to see and communicate with the elves, dwarves and trolls who are an integral part of Icelandic myth and history. Now a grandmother and a seer often consulted about where elves are and what they are saying, she is also an environmental activist and the heroine of The Seer and the Unseen. While its mystical subject defies logic, Sara Dosa’s verite film is cogent and appealing thanks to a savvy strategy. Dosa respects Ragga’s beliefs without endorsing them, and positions her activism as a metaphor for saving the environment. In fact, the activist group Ragga is part of focuses on protecting nature. Think of her as a poet rather than an elf-whisperer and this beautifully constructed film works for even the most rational viewers. Dosa sets up the trajectory of The Seer and the Unseen gradually, first introducing viewers to Ragga as a character, then to her particular environmental cause, and eventually the entire Icelandic economy. This director knows what she’s doing. Her 2014 documentary, The Last Season, about a Cambodian and an American war veteran who bond, was nominated for an Independent Spirit Truer Than Fiction Award. READ THE FULL REVIEW HERE.
ENVIRONMENTAL ACTIVISM MEETS MYSTICISM IN SUBLIME NEW DOC
Ragnhildur Jonsdottir is the environmental activist and purported “seer,” who communicates with the elf community, at the center of Sara Dosa’s sublime new documentary “The Seer And The Unseen.” Better known as Ragga to her community, Dosa’s film tracks Ragga’s consultations with various project managers and builders, attempting to maintain a balance between Iceland’s natural environment, which Ragga believes is filled with various elves, and the country’s rapid growth and development. While the set-up to the film is, somewhat, absurd, Dosa treats her subject with empathy, not so much pushing against Ragga’s beliefs but, instead, using elves as a metaphor for the environmental activism that Ragga and her group, Friends of the Lava Conservation, participate in. The existence of elves, dwarves, and even trolls is, in fact, so centralized with Icelandic mythology that Ragga’s consulting business, in which she serves as a mediator between the spiritual and the real world, is constantly busy. Even those who don’t exactly believe in the spiritual respect Ragga, often noting that they rather be safe and try to appease the elves instead of risking whatever wrath may come from disrupting their environment….By presenting this global environmental crisis through the microcosm of Ragga’s relationship with possible elfish communities, she has created a stirring and humane portrait of the possibilities if we only open ourselves up to otherworldly possibilities [A-]. READ THE FULL REVIEW HERE.
the moveable fest
A DARK ENVIRONMENTAL OUTLOOK IS BROUGHT TO LIGHT IN SARA DOSA’S EFFERVESCENT “THE SEER AND THE UNSEEN”
An Icelandic woman who claims to see elves proves to be a wonderful guide towards seeing the bigger picture about our stewardship of this earth…In an early scene from “The Seer and the Unseen,” the owner of a bed and breakfast in Hukadalur, Iceland comes for a consultation with Ragnhildur “Ragga” Jonsdottir to go over his plans to expand his property, having heard he might be building on occupied territory. He wouldn’t know from looking out the window himself as there is undeveloped land for as far as the eye can see, but Jonsdottir, a regally silver-haired elder, would as an expert in spotting elves, who have been said to co-exist with humans since the time of the Vikings and quite possibly before in these parts. While Jonsdottir continues the tradition of honoring the elves’ presence, putting out food for them in the morning with her grandchildren in the hopes that they can start to see what she does, there are fewer and fewer as interested as the B & B owner in protecting either the land or the cultural customs that were once so strong less than a century ago that Icelandic law required ships to take down their dragon mastheads so as not to disturb their fellow tenants. Although director Sara Dosa doesn’t ask you to share Jonsdottir’s exact vision, you can see for yourself the threat that’s posed overall to Iceland in abandoning the beliefs that have dictated their relationship to the land for centuries. With a calm, articulate central figure around to describe the situation that’s unfolding as if it were a dark fairy tale, the filmmaker masterfully draws a line between the 2006 real estate boom that left the country’s economy in tatters by 2008 as a result of overdevelopment and the too-good-to-be-true availability of credit lines and how the cycle is well underway to repeat itself as construction grows out of Reykjavik to more rural territories such as Garðabær where Jonsdottir makes her home. A flashpoint has emerges when a new road is set to be built on land where Jonsdottir believes there is an elf chapel, and there’s a particularly ripe metaphor when her husband points out that while the country has been fine relying on one central highway for most of its history, the division into two is a reflection of a culture headed in two different directions less likely to intersect in the future….READ FULL REVIEW HERE.