A ninety-nine-year-old lighthouse keeper prepares his own funeral while striving to reconnect with the supernatural part of his own being: 'the elf that lies within'. Hulda and Trausti have been living under the same roof for over seventy years.
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Team

Jón Bjarki Magnússon

Director, Cinematographer, Editor & Producer

Sindri Freyr Steinsson

Sound Post Production

Hlín Ólafsdóttir

Writer, Producer & Original Score

Andy Lawrence

Associate Producer & MA Supervisor

Sigurður Eyþórsson

Editing Consultant

Veronika Janatkova

Associate Producer & Dramaturg

Plan

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Hálfur Álfur

30%
  • Script
  • Shooting
  • Editing
  • Sound design
  • Post production
  • Color grading
  • Marketing
  • Posters and post cards
  • Web page
  • Applications for festivals

Further Information

A ninety-nine-year-old lighthouse keeper prepares his own funeral while striving to reconnect with the supernatural part of his own being: 'the elf that lies within'. Hulda and Trausti have been living under the same roof for seventy years. While Trausti goes on a quest to find just the right coffin in time for his hundredth birthday, Hulda retreats into a world of poetry with the help of her electric magnifying glass; as an old man becomes ever more immersed in the fleeting lands of childhood fairy tales, a woman has to put up with him.

An observational film

Half Elf (62 min) is a documentary set in our times, a modern day fairy-tale grounded in old Icelandic folklore. It is a tale that celebrates life in the midst of the reality that awaits us all, death itself. Where elves make their presence known to show us how they can still affect those standing on crossroads. The film is an observational account on an elderly couple going through the last stages of life, a sweet and sour portrait of two fundamentally different characters that have shared a long life.

Hulda is a book-gorger who loves being in peace and quite at home, watching television or reciting old poetry. Trausti is a stone collector who loves to be out and about, constantly seeking the company and attention of other people. When he bursts out singing, Hulda tells him to stop screaming. When he buys his coffin, she makes fun of him and claims he suspects his own relatives would put him “in the ground in a bag.” When he tells her he wants to change his name to "Elf" she hastily tells him that his family will abandon him.

An anthropological research

I have been working on Half Elf for the past three years as a part of a research project in the MA program of Visual and Media Anthropology at Freie Universität in Berlin. This said, the idea to portray my grandparents through some form of storytelling has probably been with me in one form or another ever since I was a kid.

Soon after I got enrolled into the MA program I realized that the time had finally come. I wanted to make a film about these two characters that had always been so dear to me. I wanted to understand them better in order to better understand myself. And I wanted to give others a chance to get a glimpse into a disappearing world.

My grandfather was so stoked about this decision of mine that he put on the performance of his life. My grandmother had a harder time understanding what I was actually doing. Why us? What is it about us that is so special? I hope the film itself will be enough to answer her question.

Asking for help

I have financed all of the production costs from my own pocket until now, which would never have been possible without the help of those who were ready to give their work for this project. Filming was mostly done in 2017 and 2018. Rough cut was ready in 2018 and final edit is about to be ready as we speak.

I am now seeking your help to cover further costs for post production, such as sound designing, color grading and final editing. Distribution and marketing of the film home and abroad can also be costly, applications for festivals can f.x. cost between 50-200 euros.

This journey has been absolutely incredible and I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to spend so much time with my grandparents during the past years. I feel I owe it to them to finish the film in a professional manner in order to keep the promise to get them on the big screen.

Thank you very much for reading through and I hope you find a reason to jump on board on these final stages. I will be forever thankful for your support.

About Trausti and Hulda

Trausti Breiðfjörð Magnússon (b. 1918) and Hulda Jónsdóttir (b. 1921) were both born in the isolated area of Strandir in the west part of Iceland in the early 20th century. As other children of that time they started doing hard labor early on, Trausti sailing with his father on an open row boat from Gjögur whilst Hulda would help her father salting herring in the herring factory in Ingólfsfjörður. This did not stop her from learning to read even before starting school. Trausti, on the other hand, never liked school that much and maybe understandably so: His left hand would be tied behind the stool to stop him from being left-handed.

After working various jobs as adolescents, in different parts of the country, they would meet in Ísafjörður in the 40´s. They got together, married and settled in the village of Djúpavík in the Strandir region. The sea was black with herring and a newly built herring factory guaranteed plenty of jobs. They where close to their old homesteads, had a small house and a growing family. In 1959 however, they sailed away for good, taking their five children with them. The herring was gone and the factory had shut down.

Looking for means to support their family, Trausti got a position as a lighthouse keeper in Sauðanes, an isolated (and then roadless) place in Northern Iceland. The Icelandic state supplied them with housing and pay to cover necessities. They had sheep for meat, cows for dairy products, chickens for eggs and fish from the sea to feed the family. Books and stones for pleasure. There they stayed for thirty-nine years, until they moved to the capital of Reykjavík in 1998.

About the Director

Jón Bjarki Magnússon is an anthropological filmmaker with a background in journalism and poetry. He studied creative writing at the University of Iceland and received his MA in Visual and Media Anthropology from Freie Universität, Berlin, in 2018. His works include journalism on the conditions of refugees and asylum-seekers in Iceland, a book of poetry, and a short film on friendship in cyberspace, Even Asteroids Are Not Alone (2018), which was recently awarded Royal Anthropological Institute´s (RAI) & Marsh Short Film Prize for ‘the most outstanding short film on social, cultural and biological anthropology or archaeology’.

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In Progress

This project has been successfully funded and is now executing.

€7,182

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110% FUNDED
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