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Monday, September 23

University Tour Kicks Off!

So much great news! We have launched our University tour beginning with Harvard University in partnership with the incredible Lawrence Lessig. We will be screening the film and then participating in a class discussion the following day. In the last week 5 more institutions from around the U.S. have contacted us about screening at their school. I am so thrilled that the film is captivating others just as it has for us over the last 5 years.
In other news: This week is our premiere in Seattle at the North West Film Forum so if you are in the Seattle area you can see Blueberry Soup on the big screen.

If you want to see Blueberry Soup come to your city or school, reach out to us and let's make it happen!

Monday, May 20

Blueberry Soup Online

Such wonderful news! Wanna see Blueberry Soup on the big screen? We will be screening the film at the North West Film Forum this fall 2013 in Seattle! In other good news we have put the film up on Vimeo on Demand to rent right from the comfort of your own home. Check it out: www.blueberrysoupfilm.com




Saturday, October 20

Today's Referendum



Timing... sometimes it so easily seems like we are 5 steps behind but just sometimes... just sometimes we are exactly where we are suppose to be at exactly the right time. I finished editing the film exactly 14 days before the national referendum was to take place in Iceland. This vote will determine what the Icelandic public has to say about the new constitution. After this, the results will be brought to Parliament and there they will make the final decision. Will this become the official constitution of Iceland? All of the work, research, time, innovation, and inspiration put into this process, will that result in a document that represents the future of the nation? 


 The day after I finished editing the film I contacted one of the members of the constitution. Once he saw the film he quickly showed interest in using the film to encourage voter turnout for the October 20th election. We had a very small window of time to organize. A group composed of people from Iceland who believed very strongly in getting the word out about the upcoming vote worked extremely hard over the next 2 weeks to try and figure out how we could get this film out to the maximum amount of people from all over the country. Finally we decided that the best way would be to go back to the root of how not only this film was made but also how the constitution was made... social media. On October 19th for 24 hours we screened the film online.
I woke up to a frenzy of emails, notifications, and over 500 views of the film.
This was the first time anyone outside of my immediate circle had seen the film, as you can imagine it was a nail biting kind of day.
Since only 24 hours ago we have been invited to screen the film in  
Greece, France, Canada, Iceland, and the United States. 
 I am writing this entry on the morning of the election in Iceland and I am hoping upon hope that it turns out for the best. But regardless of the result, I would like to pay homage to the process itself.
Let's review: 500 people ran for 25 seats in the council, those 25 were made up of an eclectic array of members within the society, then the newly elected council created an online draft for citizens to voice comments and suggestions throughout the process, during the sessions the council used Facebook and Twitter to update the public, once finished a national referendum was held for the entire nation to vote on the constitution, and only in the end is this brought to the parliament (still to come).
I have learned a great deal over the past four years as I have observed this historical event evolve. 
So much can be accomplished with just cooperation and trust and one brave leap of faith in a new direction will manifest even more courageous decisions, making each easier than the last. One of our contributors Jonas Antonsson pointed out that all the structures that are failing us now are creations; the house we live in, the monetary system, the government were all ideas at one point. So by that understanding these ideas are revisable, right?  However the election turns out today this process has paved a path for future acts of creative change and participatory democracy.

Eygló Svala Arnarsdóttir is the editor for the Icelandic publication Iceland Review and  one of the main contributors to Blueberry Soup, yesterday she wrote a great article on her thoughts on the constitutional reform and today's referendum. Check it out here: When Tomorrow Comes


 To organize a screening of Blueberry Soup in your city, send us a message. Otherwise keep visiting us on Facebook and our website for upcoming screenings.

 


Sunday, February 5

Span of a Year

 
To me, Blueberry Soup is a documentary that hits close to home. I have traveled to Iceland for over 15 years. I´ve seen the rise and fall of the economy in a very short period of time. Every single person living in Iceland was blindsided by the financial crash of 2008. The rippling affect instigated riots, triggered suicides and spiked the unemployment rate from 1.6% to over 8% in the span of a ye......ar and all of my Icelandic friends have a story.

When I first heard about Blueberry Soup - a documentary about the financial collapse in Iceland, I became immediately interested. I learned that the documentary was not just about the economic story but more specifically the personal stories shared by the local people. Without hesitation I made a financial contribution to the film. More than anything, I want the people of Iceland to be heard. Not the opinions of the government, not the media and not the rest of the world, just the people of Iceland.

-Karen Helena Wallington(Co-Producer of Blueberry Soup)

Bus Ride



We head to the bus terminal at an intersection that I had long ago memorized. There was a bit of a wait time, and we decided to get some candy. Normal candy choices for me would be fuzzy peaches, all sweet. Eileen spies some dark purple stars and purchases about 2o of them. She passes the bag around to all three of us. Steve sniffs it, I bite into it, and Eileen pops it into my mouth. Steve watched as my jaw looked confused, and Eileen looked offended and let the candy drop from her mouth. These stars were VERY salty. I laugh, even now, hearing Eileen say, “I’m going to give these to someone who hates life.”

-Bria Cole (Producer of Blueberry Soup)

Sunday, January 22

Cutting Room Floor

Did you know that when you watch a documentary you are only seeing a small fraction of the process that went into making that film? The fact is there are dozens of incredible stories that are left on the "cutting room floor". Starting in February we will be releasing stories from our amazing three year adventure from conception to post production.




 
 
 
 
 

Friday, July 29

The Constitution is Finished


Today the Constitutional Assembly handed in the much anticipated brand-new constitution!

In October 2008 Iceland's economy went belly up. A small collective of people became very rich as the nation was clothes-lined with an unimaginable debt.
After the collapse (called the "kreppa") imaginative, innovative, pissed off Icelanders got together and discussed what they wanted to see change. One of the main items on that list was to re-write the constitution.

There was never really a purely Icelandic constitution prior to today. Up to this point Iceland's constitution was a borrowed copy from the Danes (they have been independent since the 40's).


Here is a brief rundown of what's happened that's making this day so incredibly important.
Click for Illustrated Diagram
 

So to push democracy to a new level the assembly put the drafts online, opened up the issues for discussion through facebook and twitter, and directly incorporated the public's opinions in the final decisions.
This is not all rose colored, the assembly faces challenges ahead. Each elect will go back to their lives as teachers, students, lawyers, farmers, parents, and clergy members. In the months to come the constitution will be reviewed by parliament and there it will be decided if this shall be the nations new "law of the land".


Is the end result the most important focus here? I wonder if we can learn a great deal from the process itself? An entire nation was welcomed to directly participate in the re-writing of their constitution from the comfort of their own homes. Do we have to be so distant from the decisions being made on our behalf? Could we approach our future with tenacity and innovation over anger and exhaustion?
I invite you on this very special day to think of five things you would like to participate in, within your own community, nation, social circle.



My birthday is next week and I enter into 30 with an un-yielding sense of responsibility. I have been gifted with the opportunity to see a constitution drafted, to speak to its authors, and to have followed a three year bread trail through the changes in a nations society following one of histories largest economic downfalls.
                                         Happy Birthday to you Icelandic Constitution.


Blueberry Soup is the documentary following the 3 year long aftermath of the economic crisis in Iceland. The film is in post-production now, as we sew together the dozens of interviews, epic imagery, and exciting moments please stay tuned for updates, photos, and videos.

Monday, June 13

The World is Watching


Three days ago an article came out in the Guardian that lit a fuse under the international media's bum. The news that Iceland is re-writing their constitution is now officially in the eyes of the global community!!  It came about in an non-traditional way. Instead of big media telling the people what's newsworthy, social networking turned the mainstream media onto the importance of Iceland re-writing their constitution.
This is a historic event and ironically not nearly represented in the Icelandic media as much as one might imagine. I was told that this is because one of the major publications in Iceland ( Morgunbladid) has an  editor that is also the former prime minister and central bank governor Davíd Oddsson. There was a joint statement submitted by the journalists association of Denmark, Sweden, and Finland addressing their concern stating " Iceland's media must have the professional ability to cover the collapse of the Icelandic economy and have complete freedom of expression." Oddsson is one of the main individuals under investigation for the Icelandic economic collapse. Iceland's constitutional assembly is the antithesis to the small crew that was running the country before. The new constitutional process focuses on transparency and accessibility to all citizens. That certainly is not in the interest of the small few that ran Iceland's finances into the ground in 2008.  So this directly ties into how much attention the constitutional assembly receives. The media holds so much power and if there is no press given to the Constitution then the constitution actually disappears in the eyes of the public. But my dear friends this is where things take an incredible turn. Knowing that they couldn't rely on  mainstream media to relay the necessary information to the country, the assembly went viral.

This is the first time we are seeing a constitution being drafted on the internet. Yes, there is a lot more to it than just facebook feedback BUT it's also a major component to what goes into this document. And it's changing how democratic discussions occur.
On the constitutional assembly's facebook page there have been hoards of supportive comments from around the world. Here are just a few of the comments people have posted over the past three days; 

"I ordered your flag to fly at my home in the US. "- Chris (USA)
Cheers from Finland!- Susannah
"You are like a lighthouse beaming hope across the world. Congratulations, you got it right!" - Eddie (Egypt)
"be proud of your participative democracy, icelanders!"- Pierre (Makati)
"What a genius and bold move Iceland. I doth my cap. Digital democracy - amazing".- Nick (United Kingdom)
"You guys started something very important there. I'm excited to follow its evolution. I really think societies and governments (its funny to mention them separately, shouldn't be, and it is one of the points you are changing for better) in any country can't keep the same after this. In fact, more than congratulations i should say "thanks"."- Michele (Mexico)
 
It actually breaks my heart a bit to see how many Americans posted on the FB page. This is exactly why I am making this film. We feel so separated from our government but you can hear in these posts that we are ready to participate in democracy we are just looking for the venue. I think like many of the Icelanders I spoke to, Americans (and it sounds like a lot of other nations) feel depleted by political corruption. I grew up in a political household (my father is a politician) and watching my dad try to work within a system that has so many irrefutable flaws, made me feel like we was swimming up stream. But nothing good can come from concentrating on what is NOT working.  I think what we can learn from all of this is that by creating new systems and addressing what IS working we can start to see the kinds of positive change that makes Iceland's situation so remarkable. In this constitutional reform we see innovation, transparency, and the determination to see the needs/wants of a nation heard. I know we as individual nations and a global community can arrive here as well. If it must come from an example, here we have it; an example of democracy and change created away from "the powers that be". With certainty I see that we can use this as an opportunity to transform our own systems.
Here is the last photo I took in Iceland. As you see this is a normal lamp post, traditional in structure and straight forward in its purpose.
                    
Now here is the same structure but altered to be something new and innovative. Its functionality remains the same but it's design helps us see things can be altered and still be effective.

    
I think it's pretty symbolic that this was one of the last things I saw before I left the country.


 If you haven't seen the buzz, here are just a few of the news sources that have caught wind of the Icelandic Constitutional Reform in the past few days.

ABC
The Guardian

USA Today 
Time Magazine
CNN 

More soon...











 

Monday, May 23

What do you do when there is a Volcanic Eruption?

What do you do when there is a Volcanic Eruption
The talented Toronto musician Ronley Teper came to visit me here in Reykjavik as well as playing two magical shows, she helped me in the various one-man production adventures throughout the city and beyond. As Ronley was about to hop on a plane back to the land of Canada, we learned that there had been a Volcanic Eruption in Grímsvötn in the Vatnajökull Glacier. This is not near the volcano that made international headlines last year (Eyjafjallajökull)
So what do you do when your plans of planes have been put on hold?
ROAD-TRIP
We have two wonderful friends (Anna and Gunnie) here we consider family and they come in at the most unexpected moments to show us nooks and crannies that the tourism books keep secret.
Anna called to say instead of the airport we are going to see beautiful things and drink lots of coffee.
We all piled into the car and experienced what it's like to take a day trip on a lovely lazy Sunday in Iceland (as a volcano is erupting). 
We muscled through the fierce cold winds that threatened to push us off cliffs into the deep pretty blue sea.
Bright blue and orange splotches randomly stain the dirt and the air smells like eggs (sulfur).
 We crossed a bridge amongst steaming beds of earth, a warm haze covers you and nothing is visible. Once on the other end you find yourself sopping wet and cold.
 There is one area where the hot water is funneled into the very cold ocean, causing a mass amount of steam and fun sounds.

Have you ever heard of harðfiskur? It's a very popular fish that Iceland exports and is often eaten as a healthy snack. This fish has been imperative in the Icelandic fishing industry, so much so that they made a museum for the little buggers!



 Nearly everyone has someone in their family a generation ago that was involved in the fishing industry. It's much like where I am from (Central New York) with farming, everyone was involved (within my grandparents generation) in the process somehow, it was a major industry for our area.
 I asked Anna if having husbands out to sea so often was a major stress for the wives and she quickly said it was and that even her great grandfather was killed at sea, leaving her grandmother with seven children.



              This wasn't a mans job, the entire process was greatly reliant on every one's hands. 

You can see the fish drying structures like this near many of the shores.

So this is what happens in disaster... we go on. And it will be much like the days before, maybe even
What if I never see this pile of bright green moss again? 
What if you never see this pile of bright green moss... ever?

 Today is day two of the Volcanic Eruption and it's made its way to Reykjavik. The warnings say do not go outside because the airs pollution is 4x the legal limit. I ran to the grocery store near by and my eyes are itchy and my skin feels like I have rolled around in Pink Panther insulation. 
Tonight is one of the darkest nights I have seen here since the trip began. The ash has reached the city and the wind is violently blowing it all over. A mountain that I can always see from my window is absent from our view and three tones of dusty clouds are over the water.
Here is a video of the Eruption happening now.

Friday, May 20

Eurovision


video

Last week there was an event that passed North Americans without a peep. This event however was epic to European countries. It is called EUROVISION
Eurovision is an annual song contest open to members of the European Broadcast Union. The event is often viewed in a party setting (much like the superbowl). A number of people in Iceland have said to me "You are going to watch Eurovision, right? You must it's a tradition here." Nearly all follow up that with "but you know we think it's cheesy? It's just fun".

So we went to the new massive music center HARPA and watched Eurovision with over a hundred Icelanders. The costumes were glitzy and the songs were pop but somehow I still felt the need to articulate my opinion on each performance. Why should I care? I don't know... but I did. During the tally I was scoffing and clapping right along with everyone else.  
The contestants for Iceland had a compelling story that made me really hope that they would win. The man who wrote the song died right after submitting it to Eurovision. His friends then got together to perform it. Although there wasn't a big light show, fancy graphics, or women on unicycles it was sweet and I wanted them to feel validated in lue of their friends absence.
Azerbaijan won. It was a jarring surprise seeing that this was the first time I had even heard of this country. It's surrounded by Iran, Georgia, Armenia, and Russia and has a population of 8,781,100, this is what Google told me.

The tradition of Eurovision is that the country that wins, hosts the event the following year. So next year I bet thousands will be following suit and  asking "Dear Mr. Google what/where is Azerbaijan?"