Stories From My Life: 2009: A Cinematic Return to My Roots

In this post I share a bit from my life and filmmaking.

Stories From My Life: 2009: A Cinematic Return to My Roots

Nestled on the west coast of Iceland lay the small town where I spent my childhood years. It was a place where wonder was everywhere, and every corner held its own adventure. The rural countryside, my friends at school, and the home with three siblings, mother, and father that housed countless memories.

Yet, a shadow was cast over this idyllic setting when we lost my father. After a prolonged battle with depression, he took his own life, leaving an indelible mark on my memories of the town. The once-beloved corners became painful reminders, making it impossible for me to set foot there.

However, a decade after the tragedy, during 2008 and 2009, a force beckoned me towards my roots. But I needed a buffer, something to mediate the raw emotions and pain of revisiting those streets and landscapes. Naturally, I turned to the one thing that had always been my solace and voice: filmmaking.

Through the art of storytelling and the lens of a camera, I embarked on a journey to once again embrace the place that had shaped me. Making films became the bridge that connected my past and present, allowing me to revisit my hometown with a renewed perspective.

When I returned there, my old family home, a relic of warmth and affection, was a bittersweet monument. Simply the thought of seeing it again dredged up emotions too powerful to confront.

Yet, time and again, the creative soul finds ways to heal itself. For me, that healing came through my passion: filmmaking. I believed, perhaps, that if I had a purpose other than merely visiting, I could face the house that cradled my memories. It would be a purpose that would require not one, but two films to be crafted in my hometown. Two buffers.

The first was a comedy (Polite People, 2009), a playful take on the intricacies of small-town politics. The second was a documentary (Adequate Beings, 2009) that celebrated the hardworking farming community I once knew. One film to lift the spirit, the other to ground it.

Over the two months of filming, I found solace in familiar surroundings. Day by day, as our team traversed the town, I felt the weight on my heart lightening. My younger brother's presence, my constant companion during this journey, played a crucial role in this process. We shared the pain of our father's loss, but for him, being a mere 16 years old at the time, and our sister at 18, the wounds were fresher, deeper. These were formative years, and their grieving process had its unique complexities.

Making these films was not just about my healing but about understanding the pain of my siblings, acknowledging the silent grief of my older brother, and recognizing the strength of my mother. The camera lens allowed me a perspective shift, giving me the courage to look beyond the past and find beauty in the present.

By the end of the project, I felt a sense of achievement. Not just as a filmmaker, but as someone who had successfully navigated a maze of memories. The town, the house, and the memories no longer held me captive. Instead, they became a testament to resilience, love, and the incredible power of storytelling.