Deborah Stratman shot this moving landscape film in Iceland and added text to the wild, almost surreal vistas: rolling titles tell stories from Iceland's history, and a voice reads letters from an English tourist to her friend as she travels with a group of schoolgirls. The primary irony stems from Hetty's rather bored attitude: despite the spectacular mountains, fields, sky, and rock, she complains that the land is mostly “stones.” A single movement within Stratman's static images—the wake of a seal in still water, the movement of a lone wind sock beside a primitive airstrip—often makes them dynamic. The land seems complexly alive; the texts are layered with meaning, including a hint of lesbianism in Hetty's detailed descriptions of her charges' clothing and jewelry. The diverse stories of the text, most of which never intersect, remind us how differently the land can be viewed across cultures. 44 min.
By Fred Camper