Update 3rd July 2015: Sofia and Alex did reach their Kickstarter project. They have a special deal with us here at Stuck in Iceland: Should they discover an old cup in the Icelandic highlands we will get to drink Úlfur IPA beer from it. But they have to wash it first.
No this isn´t the title of a rather outlandish novel by Dan Brown, this is the goal of a Italian mathematician and explorer Giancarlo Gianazza. He believes that he has found hidden clues in the Divine Comedy by Dante which has led him to Kjölur in the Icelandic highlands where heand his team think they are close to discover something called the “Holy Grail” on a lonely hill, called of all things “Nipple hill,” right in the middle of nowhere. This is apparently the culmination of a 13 yearlong project, which has both involved research in the field in the Icelandic highlands and mathematical analysis of Dante´s text. You find this a bit unbelievable and outlandish? Well, we must admit we are sceptical as well!
In any case, documenting the project are Italian independent filmmakers Sofia E. Rovati and Alex Sykulak who have a project on Kickstarter called Finding Thule so they can film the final excavation and complete their documentary with a planned release date of September 2016. They have already spent a year and a half on the project and judging from their trailer on Kickstarter they have some really cool material already. When this is written they are more than halfway to reach their goal of collecting 24 thousand pounds. We found all of this intriguing and they agreed to be interviewed.
How did it come about that you started to follow Mr. Gianazza project and documenting it?
I’ve heard about Giancarlo for the first time a very long time ago through my father. His story has always exercised a very powerful fascination on me. However, it was only last year when I finally took the step that I had long dreamed of. I joined the expedition with the idea of sharing this story and making it more accessible to the people.
Mr. Gianazza’s research is extremely complicated and it has been carried out over a 10-year period. My film focuses on the scientific aspect of the research, documenting step by step the last stages of this journey to Iceland. But it also leaves space for us to get to know the men behind this quest, discovering the inner journey that each of them had to go through. I believe that every story is a journey, and the purpose of a journey is to find out something more about your inner self. This is how the idea of making a film about Mr. Gianazza and his team really came about.
Forgive us for being a bit sceptical, do you think he is actually on to something in his quest?
I think it’s good to be sceptic, it makes you look at things in a much more critical way. This is how my filming started too. It is only along the way, when this journey turned into something else, something more personal and real that I started to believe in this man and his quest. What is fascinating about his research is that Gianazza doesn’t know what exactly he is looking for. He can only draw assumptions based on the historical circumstances in which Dante writes his masterpiece, hence the connection with the Templars. By following clues that he finds in the Divine Comedy, translating poetry into geographical coordinates, Gianazza got hold of a map to the unknown. The destination will only be revealed once he finally gets there.
In answer to your question, I believe Giancarlo is definitely on to something, perhaps something that is invisible to most of people who have lost the ability to dream.
You mention on your Kickstarter page that you came to Iceland in 2014. Was that your first trip here?
Yes, hopefully the first of a long series.
What challenges did you face when filming in the Icelandic highlands?
The weather was definitely the biggest challenge. Iceland it’s windy and cold and this can be very impious when it comes to filming.
Is it something that you particularly like or dislike about Iceland?
It’s like being on another dimension, the landscape reminds me of a primordial land untouched by man and inhabited by dinosaurs.
Driving up to the Kjölur highlands was one of the best experiences I have ever had. Up there everything is quiet and peaceful, you can almost hear yourself thinking. It’s very therapeutic.
What advice would you give to people that are traveling to Iceland for the first time?
There have been Facebook comments about off-road driving. We at Stuck in Iceland hate unlicensed and illegal off road driving which often can leave permanent marks or damage to fragile nature for decades or longer. Sofia Rovati responds to the comments:
It’s good that you mention [off road driving] as I believe this should be applied everywhere and not just in Iceland. We should take example from your country as is the main reason why the nature of your land is still so beautiful in comparison to many other places with the same potential.
Because we are following a government approved expedition we have the permit of traveling of road with them. Like indians and without leaving more than one same trace
I’ll promise not to ruin but to preserve!