Frostbiter, Icelandic Horror Film Festival was held at Akranes recently and in the category of Icelandic shorts, Sesselia Olafs won for her film “Umskipti”. Anna Saeunn Olafsdottir, a graduate from The Film School, was a producer on the film. We spoke with Sesselia and got to pry a little bit
“Umskipti” by Sesselia Olafs and Peter Callow
When three friends go to to a cabin on the thirteenth day of the Christmas holiday, events occur that no one would have expected when mystical beings from Icelandic folklore enter reality with consequences that will leave a mark on the girls lives.
What film was the first to capture your attention?
I think it was “Beauty and the Beast”, the cartoon. I saw it at the cinema and was so happy to see a brown eyed female hero! But what most affected me was when the beast died, I was inconsolable. That year I had lost my favorite uncle and think that scene had released all that pain. The transformation to a prince did not sit well with me and I wanted the warm nice beast back.
What lead you to film making ?
The fact that films are a great medium for stories! I have always loved different mediums of storytelling, whether being through books, poems, songs, paintings or acting, because you can discover something interesting in each story the piece has to say. Films are in my opinion one of the most accessible medium for storytelling and I have often thought they needed more of a variety of the stories they are telling. Both in the subject and the viewpoint. I might want to make an effort to improve that.
Where does the idea for your film “Umskipti”, come from ?
I have always wanted to see our folklore heritage being used more in film making and I have wondered what the best way would be to approach that. Some years ago I took a trip with friends to a cabin and it dawned on me that the terror in the Icelandic elves from years gone by would be a perfect fit in the world of horror films, as many of our folklore are basically horror stories.
How did shooting the film go?
Shooting went incredibly well, no wonder with the talented people involved. It was a pleasure to work with Pete, my co-director. He was always so positive and focused and loves what he does and that is infectious. The actresses, Asta, Bergdis, Karen and Sandra were also amazing and it was a treat to see how well they fitted in their characters and also together as a group. The atmosphere and togetherness on set was also incredible and priceless, especially when it was freezing cold and the day long. The only thing that had the potential to be a problem was when it started snowing heavily on the last night and the surroundings changed completely, but it was saved by the fact that we had already done most of the outdoor filming. It actually made one of the elf shot in the movie even more mystique than was planned.
What is it that makes horror so seductive?
That is a good question. Most take a time period where they take engulf themselves in watching horror and I remember that period distinctly. There is something in the fact that horror stretches the imagination in every which way, plays on deep set feelings and pressures the boundaries we have. I think one is fascinated by ones own response and ones own fear of things and circumstances, that hopefully we will never have to face. It is also a good reminder of how lucky and prosperous we are.