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Marie Claire, Italy, April, 2012 , "Those Secrets Between Us" (pg 5) by Debora Attanasio
Review From "plan b" Magazine (London, England)
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Australian International Film Festival 2006Australian International Film Festival October 2006 -- Official Selection
"A documentary that challenges our perception of what is real"
--Aron D'Souza, Executive Director
Toronto Star, October 27, 2006A little trip into the mystic
POP CULTURE WRITER
If one were to entertain the possibility of elves, trolls and other mystical beings living in parallel universes and occasionally popping in to say hello or steal your wallet, Iceland would be a good place for it. The harsh loveliness of the volcanic, sparsely populated island with its mountains, warm springs, horses, waterfalls and occasional whiff of sulphur, looks like the perfect setting for a fantasy film. Nisha Inalsingh, a New Yorker born in Trinidad, was taken with the country when she first visited some five years ago; when she started hearing tales of the hulduf�lk, the "hidden people," she was intrigued. "I came back to Iceland six months later and started interviewing people to see how widespread this belief was. Was there really something here? As I started getting out, or even just talking to people in Reykjavik, everyone had a story ... I started finding that the more you spoke to people, the more they trusted you. They may not say they believe, but they definitely would not say they didn't believe the possibility, which is very interesting," Inalsingh says.The result of her work is the entrancing documentary Hulduf�lk 102, which will be shown this weekend at the second annual Fantasy Worldwide International Film Festival. The film's title refers to the fact that a particular stretch of road in Iceland was built to avoid a rock believed to house the hidden people. On one side sits a house, No. 100, on the other sits 104. The hidden people, naturally, live in 102.The people interviewed � teachers, MPs, historians, farmers, film directors, folklorists and more � are quite comfortable with the idea of a parallel universe, whether they profess to personally believe.What it comes down to, it appears, is being nice to nature, nice to whomever we may happen to share the world with. "You have to keep your part of the bargain," says one person. Says Inalsingh of her work: "It's about an idea. How often do you see a documentary that's about an idea? They're usually about a person or an event or a place, and here we are looking for something that in reality may or may not exist. I think that's what makes it a unique and interesting piece."The charm of the film lies in a blend of breathtakingly beautiful scenery worthy of a travel film and the way the Icelandic believers are presented as perhaps eccentric, but never delusional. We get a nice mishmash of history, folklore and first-hand encounters. In the end the impression is of the rare place where the proponents of Christianity were never able to entirely destroy the old gods and beliefs and wisps of Norse goddess Freya still hang in the air. The soundtrack backs up a deliberately ethereal feel."The music is huge. We got a lot of Icelandic bands. We got Sigur R�s, we got M�m. M�m actually has five or six tracks. We use Arvo P�rt for some of the classical pieces. The music really lends itself to the feeling of the visual and it all works together to create the atmosphere."Inalsingh, whose love affair with Iceland is obviously more than a fling, is now working on a feature film based on her documentary. When it comes time to film, she's going back. "That feeling you get in Iceland, the isolation and also this idea of really being in nature and with nature, we have to be there and get the whole crew feeling that ... we have to shoot in Iceland to get that feeling."The festival starts tonight with the Canadian premiere of another documentary, The Gathering: Return of the Whale Dreamers. Other highlights include Gamerz, a fun Scottish tale of love and role-playing, which isn't only for fans of Goth elves and Dungeons and Dragons, and the almost-good Canadian feature Sidekick, which asks: what are you supposed to do when you suspect a nasty co-worker may have super powers?
-- MALENE ARPE POP CULTURE WRITER
Raindance Film Festival, London, 5 October, 2006Set against the backdrop of Iceland�s breathtaking rural landscapes, Huldufolk 102 explores the country�s incredible attitude towards a supernatural phenomenon most of us associate with Walt Disney, JRR Tolkien and five year old girls. Entitled, quite literally, �hidden people 102�, Nisha Inalsingh�s film debut tackles parallel universes, fairies, elves and all things three feet tall.
This unique documentary, containing interviews with farmers and academics, politicians and priests, the young, the old, the superstitious and the rational, bears testament to the survival of ancient folkloric traditions in all segments of Icelandic society. Once a widespread phenomenon all over Europe, such folklore is now mostly limited to old Nordic ladies and young Irish kids. Yet here, men in suits talk very seriously about the huldufolk�s invisible houses inside rocks and stones. The matter is taken so seriously, in fact, that parliamentarians agree to divert roads around potentially �inhabited� rocks! It�s not, the interviewed invariably stress, that everybody believes in these invisible beings (though 10 percent of the population do admit to it), but rather that most refuse to deny the possibility (80 percent, to be sure).
Sceptics expecting a cheap laugh will be disappointed to find an intelligently constructed documentary that explores how centuries of geographical isolation and proximity to nature have created an open minded and mature people who still have a respect for the vast outdoors and the unknown that we can only envy. Thoroughly charming. --UG
Athens International Film Festival, 25 September, 2006Testing your faith in the absurd and redefining documentary as a means of documenting un-reality, describing this journey into the secret life of Icelandic rock elves as strange, would be something of an understatement! Interviewing people with first-hand experience of this unexplained phenomenon and retracing old legends, fairy tales and mysterious incidents - universally accepted by all Icelanders as hard facts - Nisha Inalsingh investigates one of the most popular X-Files of the modern world. Equipped with an open mind and a fertile imagination, swaying to the hypnotic melodies of Sigur Ros and Mum against the breathtaking Icelandic scenery, she turns the tables around, cleverly proving the truth isn�t really out there, it�s inside our hearts, in the human need to believe in the supernatural, in the intangible proof of the existence of the hidden people. And those who don�t believe are simply the ones who are afraid to stray from logic...
The Stranger / Seattle's Only Newspaper -- May 25-31, 2006DON�T MISS A remarkably straight-faced documentary about the rich mythological heritage of Iceland, which has flourished to the point where highway developers will go out of their way to avoid uprooting a potential �elf rock.� The subject matter is hard to resist, and the 74-minute running time keeps the inherent whimsy in check before things become too totally Bj�rk. The interview with a soft-spoken professional sorcerer, complete with raven, is one for the vaults. -- ANDREW WRIGHT
Seattle Film Festival 2006Official Selection -- Seattle Film Festival 2006 -- May 29th & 30th, 2006
Seattle Film Festival Review (Blog)
Metroblogging Seattle -- May 30th 2006If it wasn't so gosh darn charming, we might send in a team of clinical psychologists to investigate a national psychosis. Instead, we have a first time documentary filmmaker examining Iceland's belief in a parallel universe inhabited by hidden people and elves. Hulduf�lk 102 is built around a collection of interviews with Icelanders young and old, clairvoyant and religious, farmers and scientists who mostly believe in the existence of usually unseen creatures who inhabit their country's nicer rocks. The subjects display an astonishing level of sincerity in their descriptions of personal experiences with supernatural phenomena; even skeptics concede to diplomatic arrangements with the Hulduf�lk, evidenced by taking their elves' needs into consideration in the construction of roads around "inhabited" rocks. The film includes a little discussion about the role of pagan beliefs in modern Icelandic Christianity, the dark side of the hidden people lore (a sort of karma police), or their influence in promoting responsible environmental stewardship, but the majority is occupied with first-hand experiences. It takes a lot of these for the cynic to realize that the whole thing isn't some sort of cute fabrication -- while only ten percent of the island's small population actively believes, there are another 80% who refuse to deny the existence of this hidden world. What comes up in conversation after conversation is a touching desire to believe that they are not as alone as they think they are, a sensible reaction to centuries of geographic isolation and seasons spent in complete darkness. It's unfortunate that the digital camerawork really isn't up to the task of capturing Iceland's obvious natural beauty. More than a few of the shots are grainy, and the handheld camerawork often has a Blair Witch feel. A lot of the heavy lifting of emotional engagement is accomplished with the help of Sigur R�s, Amina, and M�m on the soundtrack. Still, it is an interesting phenomenon; hearing about it directly from true believers and modest skeptics is a fascinating experience.
Newspaper Review -- April 2006MOVIE REVIEW: Huldufolk 102
Directed by Nisha Inalsingh. 74 min. Not rated.
Showing at 7 p.m. Wednesday, 2 p.m. Saturday and 2:15 p.m. Sunday at Hollywood 20, Main Street and U.S. 301. Filmmakers to attend. Tickets are available at the Sarasota Film Festival box office next to the Hollywood 20 (Suite 108) or online at www.sarasotafilmfestival.com.
Filmed in the breathtaking landscape of Iceland, �Huldufolk 102� is a magical look at the country�s secret demographic: its elves. Much of the population believes these creatures of lore exist, and treats their supposed dwellings with ingrained reverence. Director Nisha Inalsingh samples professors, farmers and interfaith figureheads, documenting their perspective on these �hidden folk.�
Helped by predominant subtitles, Inalsingh tells the history of the elves, and not through timeline graphics or voiceovers. The poetic camera work follows the organic pattern of Iceland�s scenery without any technical interruptions. From warm volcanic springs to porous rock formations and green hills, Inalsingh traces each spot known to contain elfin activity.
Inalsingh taps children, who are supposedly more attuned to this phenomenon, and has them discuss their personal encounters. What a challenge Inalsingh has undertaken in this film. Not only is the main character an intangible entity, but it is one American audiences may not intimately understand. Icelandic culture, with its pagan and Viking roots, is rife with mythological wonder. Their topics of conversation might be lost on less mystically inclined outsiders.
Inalsingh shows that there is nothing wildly illogical about believing in the unproven, and viewers can certainly take a lesson from that notion.
Women's Magazine Radio Interview 200688.5 FM Tampa, Florida - Radio Interview with Director -- April 2006
Indiewire.com Feature -- 2006
Filmmaker Werner Herzog (middle) at an afternoon cocktail in his honor at the Sarasota Film Festival last week along with the fest's executive director Jody Kielbasa (right). Herzog received Sarasota's World Cinema Master Award and a film retrospective at the fest.
Other Film Reviews
"Just wanted to say that I at last got a clear moment to watch the film in peace the other day - and wanted to say that this is by far the best film made to date on the elf subject: it is open minded, fair, full of wonderful interviews, and really, really beautiful; the cutting and nature shots are incredible and well connected with the subject, and the use of music perfect. I don�t know how you got all these wonderful contacts - and not least the wonderful farmer with the beard. Congratulations. If you don�t get a prize somewhere for this, I'll be very surprised." -- Terry Gunnell, Assoc. Professor of Folklore at Univ. of Iceland
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