Films past

Looking for the Hidden Folk & The Seer and the Unseen With Nancy Marie Brown & Sara Dosa

Book jacket courtesy Pegasus Books

TUE—October 11—7 PM, free
*In-person; RSVP required*

Learn about the story of Iceland’s hidden folk in a special upcoming book talk and screening with author Nancy Marie Brown and filmmaker Sara Dosa this October! In celebration of the October 4 release of  Brown’s Looking for the Hidden Folk, a wonderfully quirky new exploration of our interaction with nature from Pegasus Books, she’ll be joined by Dosa for a discussion on the book as well as a discussion and screening of Dosa’s The Seer and the Unseen (Iceland, 2019), a magic realist fable about invisible elves, financial collapse, and the surprising power of belief.

In exploring how Icelanders interact with nature — and their idea that elves live among us — Looking for the Hidden Folk discusses how altering our perceptions of the environment can be a crucial first step toward saving it. Looking for answers in history, science, religion, and art — from ancient times to today — Brown finds that each discipline defines what is real and unreal, natural and supernatural, demonstrated and theoretical, alive and inert. Each has its own way of perceiving and valuing the world around us, and each discipline defines what an Icelander might call an elf. Illuminated by her own encounters with Iceland’s Otherworld — from ancient lava fields to holy mountains, to glaciers to the cold desert — and hailed as “astonishing, lyrical, and thought-provoking” (Pat Shipman, author of Our Oldest Companions), Brown’s new book offers an intimate conversation about how we look at and find value in nature, and reveals how the words we use and stories we tell shape the world that we see.

Winner of the Best Foreign Documentary at the Oslo Independent Film Festival, among others, The Seer and the Unseen tells the story of an Icelandic grandmother — a real-life Lorax who speaks on behalf of nature under threat. As it is about to be razed by a road construction project, our heroine Ragga fights to save a threatened landscape believed to be home to a community of elves-invisible spirits of nature that over half of Iceland believes in. This road is needless and redundant — a resuscitation of the country’s dogmatic embrace of the ‘invisible hand of the free market,’ which drove Iceland to its spectacular 2008 financial meltdown. Through Ragga’s heroic story, The Seer explores the invisible forces – be they elves or capitalism – that shape our visible worlds and transform our natural landscapes, revealing not only what is worth seeing but what is worth saving.

In this evening’s program, Nancy Marie Brown first introduce her book in-person and will then be joined remotely by Sara Dosa, as they discuss both of their projects and the themes they explore. Their discussion will be followed by a screening of The Seer and the Unseen, and will conclude with a Q&A about the book and film.

This program will take place in-person at Scandinavia House; RSVP required.

About Nancy Marie Brown

Nancy Marie Brown is the author of several highly praised cultural histories, including The Real ValkyrieSong of the Vikings, and Ivory Vikings. These titles have been favorably reviewed in the New Yorker, the New York Times, the Economist, the Times Literary Supplement, the Wall Street Journal, and many other journals.

Brown has spent decades studying Icelandic literature and culture. She lives on a farm in Vermont where she keeps four Icelandic horses and an Icelandic sheepdog.

About Sara Dosa

Sara Dosa is an Indie Spirit Award-nominated documentary director and Peabody award-winning producer whose film work explores the human relationship to non-human nature often through tropes of allegory, myth and magic realism. Her work has been shown at festivals worldwide such as Sundance, SXSW, New Directors/New Films, CPH:DOX and Visions du Réel and has screened in partnership with museums such as the MOMA, BAMPFA and The Louvre. Most recently, Dosa directed Fire of Love, an archival collage film about volcanologists Katia and Maurice Krafft. Fire of Love premiered Opening Night of Sundance 2022 where it won the Jonathan Oppenheimer Editing Award and was acquired by National Geographic Films and Neon for a 2022 release. Other directing titles include the Indie-Spirited Award nominated The Last Season, a verité portrait of two Oregon veterans turned wild mushroom hunters, and the Golden Gate Award-winning The Seer & The Unseen, a magic realist fable about and Icelandic woman in communication with spirits of nature. Dosa’s producing credits include the Peabody-winning Audrie & Daisy (Sundance / Netflix 2016) and the Peabody and Emmy-nominated Survivors (IDFA / POV 2018). Dosa co-produced the Academy Award-nominated The Edge of Democracy (Sundance / Netflix 2019) and co-produced An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power (Sundance / Paramount 2017), the follow-up film to Vice President Gore’s seminal An Inconvenient Truth.

In 2018, Dosa was named to the inaugural class of DOCNYC’s “40 under 40” and was also inducted into the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences. Dosa lives and works in Berkeley, California.