“A magic realist documentary about invisible elves, financial collapse and the surprising power of belief, told through the story of an Icelandic woman.”
Ragnhildur Jónsdóttir is a person who speaks on behalf of nature under the threat of great change. And she speaks to the past as well, a place that — well, we’ll leave that up to you, dear viewer — may be still filled with elves and invisible forces that are able to still influence our modern world.
It doesn’t matter if you believe it or not. You just need to watch this.
Ragga, as she is called, is a seer who communicates directly with a parallel realm of elves called the huldufólk that at least half of her native Iceland believes in. That means that businesses, individuals and even the government ask her to see where they should build and develop property. However, not everyone believes or listens to Ragga, so when a new highway begins construction across an untouched lava field near Reykjavik — and threatens an elven church within the rocks — Ragga fights to protect the homes of those who only she can see.
Director/producer Sara Dosa said, “When I first learned about Ragga, I not only thought that she was a delightful, strong and wise person who’d make for an inspiring protagonist for a film, but also that her story provided an unexpected conduit to exploring the belief in invisible forces: be they invisible elves or the ‘invisible hand of the free market,’ to call upon Adam Smith’s original phrase. By juxtaposing these systems of belief, I wanted to make a film about what humans choose to see: the spirits of the land who beckon protection for the environment or the valuations of an economic logic capable of producing gross inequality, environmental destruction and that bankrupted Iceland (among many others). My hope is that the film can show the power of these unseen forces and reveal not just what is worth seeing but what is worth saving.”
In her director’s statement, Dosa really sets the tone for this film: “We can’t see God, for instance, but so many of us believe God exists, and that belief has profound consequences on how many live their lives. The same is true of the forces animating markets, which are regularly taken as fact and the products of ‘natural laws,’ rather than understood as comprising a system of beliefs. Rather than state this in sentiment in academic language, our protagonist, Ragga Jónsdóttir, instead is the spirited conduit for this exploration. And, by juxtaposing these systems of belief, my desire ultimately was to make a film about what humans choose to see: the spirits of the land who beckon protection for the environment or determinations of economic value capable of bankrupting a nation. My hope is that the film shows these invisible forces that shape our world and transform our natural landscapes, revealing not only what is worth seeing but what is worth saving.”
To Ragga, the invisible hand that guides the world of money seems just as foreign as you or I may see the world of magic. Sosa is uniquely able to tell the story of this juxtaposition, as she graduated from the London School of Economics’ joint Master’s program in Cultural Anthropology and International Development Economics.
We often see foreign countries as a strange place that we’re afraid of exploring. Or we make fun of their unique customs. But perhaps by looking to these places, we can learn something new that can help the parts of the world that we inhabit. That’s one of the many reasons why this film is worth more than just a look.
The Seer and the Unseen is being handled by Utopia in North America and they will release the film on AppleTV and Altavod.
Utopia Media also brought the British rock document on Suzi Quatro, Suzi Q, to the world stage. Utopia’s other award-winning documents are Martha: A Picture Story, concerned with Martha Cooper, a New York-based, trailblazing female graffiti artist and street photographer, WITCH – We Intend to Cause Havoc, about the ’70s, Zambian progressiv-rock band of the title, and For Madmen Only: The Stories of Del Close, regarding the influential comedy writer.
Utopia is headed by Robert Schwartzman — of the band, Rooney, and a writer and director in his own right — who made his feature film directing debut with the really fine comedy, The Argument, released last September. You can learn more about the launch of Utopia Media with this February 19, 2019, article at Deadline.com.