Icelandic volcano documentary to be shown at Blaine Public Library

Published on Wed, Sep 11, 2013 by Ian Ferguson

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Be thankful our local volcano, Mt. Baker, is relatively stable. A film to be screened at the Blaine Public Library shows what life is like living in the shadow of far more active volcanoes on Iceland.

Called “Living With Lava,” the film will be shown Thursday, September 19 at 6 p.m. as part of the Donald K. Johnson Icelandic Film Series, an international series organized by the Icelandic National League of North America.

“Living With Lava” is a documentary by English filmmaker Theo Maximilian Goble. When Goble first visited Iceland in 2010, he saw firsthand the impact of volcanic eruptions and the glacial floods that result. Goble was impressed by the citizens of the country, to whom periodic cataclysmic eruptions are just another fact of life. Goble was intrigued by “just how relaxed the Icelanders are about living so close to all this,” he said. 

Shortly after Goble’s visit, the eruption of the Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajökull shut down airports across Europe for a week with its enormous clouds of ash. 

As an editor who had worked in the film industry for 15 years, Goble knew he had found the subject of his first independent film.

Within a year, Goble returned to Iceland with a film crew and began interviewing survivors of eruptions, including an eruption in the 1970s that forced the evacuation of the entire island. Again and again, he was struck by the attitude of residents living on such a volcanically active island.

Goble described their relationship with the land as “a gentle acceptance of the situation they find themselves in and a great respect for Mother Nature and the wrath she is capable of,” he said. 

“For me, it is this relationship that forms the backbone of “Living With Lava”: human emotions, anecdotes, family history and ordinary lives set against the backdrop of extraordinary surroundings.”

The documentary is the 2013-14 selection for the Donald K. Johnson Film Series, which is offered to local Icelandic clubs across North America. The local chapter of the Icelandic National League of North America is the Blaine Icelandic Heritage Society (BIHS). 

The group holds an annual Icelandic picnic at Peace Arch Park, has hosted Icelandic visitors and explores local Icelandic settlement history with the aim of maintaining a local connection to Icelandic roots. 

“There was a fairly large settlement of Icelanders who came to Blaine and Point Roberts from the 1970s to the 1910s,” said Rob Olason, whose ancestors were part of that migration. “Many came over as a direct result of a major eruption in 1876, and the terrible winter that followed because crops were devastated by ash.”

Olason, who has seen the film, said much of it deals with the recovery process after a major eruption – a process Icelanders are all too familiar with. 

Admission to the showing of “Living With Lava” is free, but seating is limited. See a preview of the film by visiting inlnafilmseries.wordpress.com.