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Tuesday, June 30

Scary Birds are Everywhere!

Bria and I had a meeting last week with the Film Centre in the center of the city. The building was this massive glass structure and the inside made me feel like the Jetsons would go zooming by any second. Everyone there was well dressed, which seems to be a common theme in Icelandic businesses, super slick attire. This sculpture was on the wall and Bria gazed at it with her "designers daughter like awe". Art is just everywhere in this country and maybe I need to look harder but it seems much more concentrated here than anywhere I have seen before. Have you ever wondered what hell looks like? Well take a gander at this painting. In hell all the creatures would look like this bird (I am guessing here).


I thought maybe when I left Iceland that it would feel empty and maybe I would even tear up a bit. This was such an important first step towards our journey so maybe I understood that and took in all that had happened and how lucky we were to even get this chance to be witness to how this nation is going to make change out of crisis.

Monday, June 29

Field of Art

I am not really a person that can think linearly... thoughts come in blips and bleeps.
I sit here with my "bush fire" iced tea from a last minute cafe before Bria and I leaped back to the hotel. There are so freaking many strange and beautiful coincidences that happened in this adventure. So ... throughout this next week. I will indulge in the memory banks and hopefully you will find it as magical as it was to experience.

Anna Torfadottir, a native Icelander, amazing print maker (website), and great friend to us during this production took us to this site... The artist (I am looking for his name and will post it up when I recover it) had so many of these aluminum sculptures that he donated them. So imagine this; you are driving down what seems to be a pretty everyday type of road with grassy fields then you come over this hill and POW, a hillside of massive silver shapes!

I loved this.

Grab your attention, vona

We are home now, in somewhat unfamiliar-scapes. Let us reflect our last three days.

Thursday, oh busy day.

After trying to *#&%^# figure out a way through this shopping center (our last hotel is in a concrete wasteland, highlighted by bare neon signs) to the bus, we take a taxi cab. At Café Paris, we meet a gent from Iceland's Ministry of Ideas.

Ministry of Ideas?

When presented with a crisis, change is synonymous. Required are generators, facilitators and make-it-happen-ors. Through surveys, group collaboration and thoughtful task segments, a new society design is possible. A touch socialist, thankfully erring on the edge of optimism.

Noise takes us out of the cafe and nearby the North West harbour to a raw warehouse. Offices developed on one side, white walls everywhere else and toes echo here.

Grateful for the interview, we shake hands with designers, thinkers, artists and general playmakers. Next, to Gogogic, a video game development company.

Lovely lady greets us and offers us water: sparkling or pure? Both varieties are dispensed from the same spout which clues us in on how high tech these people are. Our interviewee, CEO Jonas, is held up in a prolonged meeting so we get a tour of the Mac infested space. We meet a beefy gent with a combed blond mohawk. He is working on the designs for a brand new viking game set for Facebook. As the images flick through his computer, he explains characters, amenities and the supreme goal of the player, which is to create the greatest viking empire on Facebook. This is called Vikings of Tule. It. Is. Awesome.

A great interview with Jonas is followed by another excellent interview with Iceland Review Online Editor, Eyglo. She was endearingly nervous for the camera, and super eloquent in her observations. This marks six straight hours of interviews and $35 in cab fare. Food please.

We do some hotel stuff to meet a very Transylvania-esque hotel manager. I saw a white lab puppy that I wanted so badly to scoop up and run for the hills with. TV dinner time lulls us to sterile sleep.

Breakfast is the usual - toast with orange/blueberry marmalade. So yummy that complaints aren't necessary. We do a fair bit of hotel business before trekking downtown for a day off. Eileen and I munched and hung out on a third storey patio doodling in our haggard sketchbooks. So many memories to retain, hopefully not lost in story-telling.

With lava beads in hand, we realize it is our last night. Night life in reykjavik is a must-do. So we chat with a handsome barista and sit on benches with strong capps in hand. People watching. There is a girl wearing happy yellow heels, drinking fine wine from a bag, looking up and trailing a ciggarette to her friend. Live music is everywhere and pours between round/angular geometric architecture. There is no exclusivity here. Warm faces and hearty drinks makes for a fine time. Blink and Atlantic reflects the sun at eleven in the evening.

We watch a horrible reality television show with a lady sign interpreter in the bottom right corner of the screen. My insides clenched as we watched her make facial expressions in jest of the television host. Oh, priceless.

Michael Jackson.

Last day in Iceland.
With heavier bags due to gift baggage, Steve, Eileen and I wait for our friendly shuttle bus driver, Conrad, or Konni. He offered to drop us off at the Blue Lagoon as a complimentary detour on our way to the airport, which is very much out of the way. This helps make it much more affordable for us to see a part of Iceland's natural assets. Otherwise, I'm not sure if we would have gone. As we drive, we see clouds of steam hovering over black lava rocks. The water IS blue. The name is not joking. It is relatively empty; whew, less tourists.

Konni leads us into the Blue Lagoon desks and before we know it, he had signed off a visa. "Have fun kids and see you at three!" A quick scamper and our heart-jaws are wide open. What amazing generousity.

It was lovely geothermal bliss. It is a pool of naturally hot seawater that is considered to be one of the world's top ten medicinal spas. The steam coaxes your eyes close and the water holds you at ease. Clay on your face (facemask), waterfalls, cave-like saunas and a juice bar. A worthy relaxation. If you can avoid the busfulls of tourists, stress is absent.

Oh friends of Iceland, we were sorry to board the airplane. But your words and generousity have inspired us. Until we come back...

Wednesday, June 24

Neat interview

iced pond drink


from a rad vintage store in downtown

Complaints from our readers demand more pictures. And images you will have!

How to sum up today?

In Sea Bear's studio to Indian food (the northmost restaurant for India!) They were very thoughtful and nice people. Music in their country comes from an innate community. Someone knows another who plays this and another with that intrument. They meet for sounds and talent builds.

Last night, people rolled naked down dewy hills. We missed the tradition! Maybe it might have been a bit uncomfortable....

HIGH FIVE.

At the Kaffibarn, we meet Olafur Arnalds. We get this amazing private setting to interview him and it looks like he will be laying the soundtrack down for our doc.

There are so many people kite sailing today. I wish I could join!!

Last night, we all walked into mountains at midnight. This below photo is taken literally at midnight. Wild horses were there; pat pat pat....

Blue Lagoooooon - here we come.





How is it possible to be on the same page?


Wha-aht?

Tuesday, June 23

Two Holes in my Teeeshirt

Yesterday was a day of speak.

The cool part about documentary filmmaking is as follows:

Spend months, reading about complex pathways of a culture you barely know about. Then, follow the daily news, hearing about names and guessing people's reactions. Then, meet people in the culture and piece together your ideas. Comes the day to meet an eloquent gentleman who very clearly summarizes different facets of culture to explain the situation in one neat package. As if someone was telling your mind to the camera.

Aw hells yeah.

This happened when we spoke with Bendict from Iceland Review. We were so lucky to meet him and few of the staff at the office. Clarity comes by the day.

Then we get down to the nitty gritty of economics with a fellow named Andreas.

Hungry bellies chase us to the One Woman Restaurant, a veggie restaurant right downtown (VEGGIE ALERT! RECOMMENDED!) Hit the roads and hit the bad-dunks.

Today, we reunited with Inga over coffee and cakes. Familiar faces in a new country makes ease.

We randomly run into Sea Bear. Picture Eileen all giddy, telling me that we have to run up a hill. Without question, we jog in heels, trying not to sound creepy and grab their attention. With as much respect and muted excitement we can muster, we agree to meet tomorrow at their studio. How great! Live music with some of the world's talented musicians.

We meet with an Icelandic production company and found some excellent news. Keep posted.

One more time to One Woman Restaurant and we hit home. A day of business and less of sights.

Oh mountains, waterfalls, and bridges away from cities.

Sunday, June 21

Meeting of the sirius clouds

I may be prone to interject random quotes/moments. That is just the way memory works.

For instance: "I am going to save these for someone who hates life." - Eileen after eating salty star candy that were thought to be sweet.

Some left over pictures from yesterday....







This was from a funky vegan cafe in downtown Reykjavik.

Early morning - we booty our fine selves to pack and out of the Viking Hotel in Hafnarfjordur to meet the ravishing Anna. She is a resident artist (namely printmaker). She was lovely enough to drive us through many scenic parts of Iceland. There really is more to the country than Reykjavik. After checking out some killer aliminum sculptures, she takes us to her studio. An association of artists in Iceland have refurbished a dairy barn into work spaces for wood/print/paint/miscellaneous. Hers used to be cow stalls. Common areas are in beautiful closed in outdoor patios, or in coffee shops lined with large arch windows. A little slice of private heaven.
By the groccery store, she pointed out a chair that was for sale for 130.000 KR which equals to about $1,300 CAD. Dinky little chair for far too much. That's the Iceland economy.
We sat down for a lovely lunch of open face sandwiches and excellent french press coffee with Anna and Gunnar. Gunnar is an artist and a teacher. We hear from them their thoughts on the current situation and the general mood. It seems as though there was a great deal of political and financial corruption that may have been premeditated, or forwarned of. As a result, Icelanders are unfairly responsible for a massive debt. It is understandable how there are feelings of simply anger. It can be the hopeless version, the determined kind, the optimistic engine, or resulting in a carefree attitude that roots from hybird reactions. While both were eloquent in their reflections, they declined to be on camera. Gunnar did, however, recommend a respected economist that we should speak to. One leads to another.
The remaining afternoon was spent pouring over sketchbook, (Anna visited Auburn, NY, where Eileen went to university and where they have a mutual friend, Jane) driving to a lighthourse (where agressive birds will make your forehead bleed), getting close to the main harbour and massive whaling ships and finally to Hotel Laxnes (named after Nobel Prize winner author, Laxnes).

Steve just got back from a long walk and found some awe-worthy sights. Guess we already know what's on the roster for tomorrow!

Saturday, June 20

Bulldozed homes and Last day at the Viking


What a strange adventure today....
Th
e manager of the hotel took us for a personalized tour of the town.
There are these purple flowers that are so pretty but to find out they are weeds and they are taking over the island and no one knows how to get rid of them.
The day was very much like the cold windy late October days we get in Toronto/New York.







While driving we heard that the day we arrived in Iceland, there was a man who has been one of the many that has had their home repossessed by the bank (from the crash). So on Iceland's Independence Day he rented a bulldozer and bulldozed the house down. Here is the aftermath...












Horses are a big here: Bria found out that the horses are so special here that many are exported but they can never return b/c they may taint the native horses. How sad...

iron wrought eyes






We slept in and missed breakfast.

We tried to hitchhike to Krysuvik; no dice. (found out it may have taken a day to walk there)

We met a Canadian artist who moved to Iceland 16 years ago and hasn't left.

That is all.

Friday, June 19

Bean boobs










Eileen just burped, breaking my long-built up concentration...

Everybody slept hard. We tried to be the responsible ambitious production crew by waking 7:30 in Iceland to get a pep in our day going. 8:30 rolls around and we rolled back into bed. Healthy alert bodies are important, no? I think the hotel puts some sort of sleeping air in our ventilators; our sleep was so deep and wonderful. I think for 8 hours, I didn't move, resulting 8 lbs of my magnificent skull resting on the joint of my jawbone. Oh tender left cheek for the rest of the day.

As soon as I wake up again, I get an email from the Icelandic Film Council. We have a meeting in two hours. So we assemble and take a 20 min bus into the capital to meet this well-dressed man. He advised us and cautioned us of individuals. He gave us a series of networks for us to build off of. Now we have a big ol' list of phone numbers to
call tomorrow. Eileen and I went to find Steve on the coast, where he was willingly abandoned to capture some time lapses. He got the type of moving footage that makes you realize how pretty nature really is, if you frame it and speed it up just a tad.

We went to the house where Regan began peace talks with Gorbatsjov at the beginning of the Cold War. Slice of irony, no?

We come across a great cafe that had images of women with coffee bean boobs. We get used to the downtown, see some graffiti, and then attend a lecture at the Rekyjavik Art Museum. We listened to Christopher Patrick Peterka and it got our idea engines rolling. Being here gives us vita: a juice for our creativity, our ideas, and philosophies on how to roll on. Some main ideas that resonated: crisis and change are one and together; creative people are the future; grassroots discussions with the goal of larger accomplishments is the best model instead of large systems implementing; don't plan to the bone, just go. Shut up and surge.

My hair will be blonde for when I get back; sunshine all the time. It rotates all around the Icelandic sky.

On a concluding and practical note: for those who will travel at some point

to Iceland: pack warmly
anywhere: pack dried soup, food, jerkies, cookies and granola bars if you can! they are lifesavers (thank you eileen)

Wednesday, June 17

Please, some 99 Cent soup

It seems that when we go on these abroad/documentary trips, we don't allot sleep time. Right now, we have been awake for 30-something hours and probably wont hit the sweet soft cushion of bed until midnightish in Iceland time.

Hit back to pre-departure. Eileen calls for an iced coffee and we meet at Manic for iced espresso. Once our coffee bellies are happy, we pick up Steve, and head to the open lands of Toronto Airport. After eating a deep fried veggie burger (ack), sushi and fries, out comes the camera equipment to compare lenses. Steve brings out his fancy lighting toys and I am all too impressed.

We are all separated on the airplane. I got stuck beside a mole-ish looking man with grey dreadlocks that smelled funky. Every now and then, he'd flip 'em, and I would inch closer to my window. We take off at 9:30pm, the flight will be 4 1/2 hours long, arrive in Iceland at 6:35 am.

Icelandair has this great touchscreen option where you can watch different facts about your flight. For instance, 2 hours in, , we were going 875km/hr at an altitude of 3,400 m high. The screen displayed this groovy contour coloured, and range respecting map of our route. Over the heads of Montreal and Newfoundland we did go. Greenland too; an eye-captivating view.

The closer north we got, the wider and brighter the horizon became We are heading to a region that is staring at the sun dead in the eyes. The sun isn't supposed to set in Iceland during our stay. Eye-masks are a packing recommendation. Greenland has these fine detailed mountainous peaks interlaced with silky cloud ribbons. Cumulus clouds overtook the space between the land and plane until water was visible. Once the aisle seat passenger in my row left for the washroom, I jumped over sleeping dreadlocks, receiving strange looks from the other passengers. With a shrug, I found Eileen and suggested we trade spots. Totally worth it. She managed to get this amazingly long still image sequence of the sky turning from cloud to water, to coast, to runway, to Icelandic landscape.

Making it through the Keflak airport was a breeze and we come across our kind driver who has the sign "Wilma's Wish Productions." I always wondered who would be looking for a sign like that at airports. We load into the van and drive on the Ringroad to reach our hotel. The drive was amazingly peaceful. The land literally expands everywhere into these epic hills and waters. Pavement uncurled before us as if it would never end.

We find our hotel at Hotel Viking. After figuring some logistics out, we are welcomed for breakfast. Perfect. It was buffet style with all these natural foods, such as homebaked bread accompanied with sweet jam or marmalade. This orange marmalade was good enough to eat, wear, and body soak in. Yum. Coffee or Kaffi, comes in two options: Regular or Strong. Strong coffee is a good choice.

At 9:30 am, with our gear in hand, we take a cab to the downtown where Prime Minister Johanna will be speaking to honour Independence Day (Iceland had just gained it's independence from Denmark in 1944). We managed to squeeze into the press arena without passes. Among other reporters, photojournalists and shooters, we engage in the game of "getting that great shot." Everyone was fluid: Steve got crisp and idiosyncratic footage, Eileen manouevered between still images, sound and camecorder work, while I balanced mini equipment tasks and observing the crowd. We spot a threesome holding black flags. We watch them. And as the formal ceremony wrapped up, this trio began to shout at the officials leaving. They were so impressively loud and expressive in their chants. We felt so lucky to get it all on camera.

Eileen and I recall our conversation with Kristin, Inga's daughter. She told us of a woman that we needed to meet; she usually has a turban around her head. Here she was, carrying a black flag. Eileen runs to catch up with her when the group leaves the ceremony. The woman with the turban said that she heard that we were coming, and that yes, she would talk to us. She scribbled her number on scrap paper and Eileen promised to call.

We are left wondering who this woman really is and why a small group was protesting at the Independence day event.

We trek home, taking turns napping on the other's shoulder. We come to our hotel right in the middle of a Viking festival. Little ones play as viking warriors, with capes and wooden swords. Once slain, each young one would collapse in feigned agony. Steve hung back to catch the drama on camera. Now I am here updating you all back at home. Eileen has joined Steve to film the festivities. It's a big thing, apparently.

I've lost my camera here, already. Maybe some mini viking warrior will return it?

I think a nap time is in order. A Viking battle, by professionals, will be taking place in 2 hours. Rest eyes, so you can see.

37 sleepless hours. Happy/tired.

Thursday, June 11

Halló :: Bless

Hello :: Goodbye in Icelandic

Rumors are true: flights are booked and hotels are reserved. Wilma's Wish Productions is on our way to Iceland starting June 16th.

Up to this point, we have been updating events and thoughts that are leading up to Iceland and less about our ideas and findings. This is because we were so set determined to get enough money together to do this film ourselves. Through our conversations with people, we get a chance to hear questions that people are asking. Every dialogue pushes us forward; it is a breathing filmmaking process.

On June 2nd, Eileen and myself (Bria) met with acclaimed Icelandic poet Ingibjörg Haraldsdóttir (Inga) and her daughter in a therapeutic clown's home. With fresh coffee and open ears, we were able to learn, oh much more, about conditions Icelanders face and their reactions. Stories of artists, protestors, Pots and Pans Revolution, determined folk, hardship, and citizen revelery circulated around our table. In three hours, we experienced people; an empathy that is and was absent in our seven months of reading and research. This shows an importance of being there.

side note: Untitled 1 from Sigur Ros' ( ) is now playing (music player is on shuffle)

We will meet with Inga again on this trip. In our conversation, she said something that stuck with me. I asked her if she still writes poetry. Her response was "It's not practical right now." In the resonance of her words, I see in my head a quote I read once, "In all cultural epochs of the past, economic circumstances have determined development of art as a whole and left a distinct mark on it."


1989

A woman is missing who/left home in days of yore/scantily clad, with flaming/fires in her eyes

"Nú eru aðrir tímar"
"Times have Changed"
Ingibjörg Haraldsdóttir

Sunday, June 7