My unfamiliar home – accepting the volcano

A documentary about peoples experience of the volcanic eruption on Heimaey in Iceland in 1973, 40 years later.

The untold stories of the 1973 volcanic eruption in Vestmannaeyjar, Iceland, told by the inhabitants that were among the 5.000 people that fled from an exploding volcano.

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The following trailer is with subtitles in 7 languages. Press the blue CC button in the lower right corner to choose a language or to turn the subtitles off.

Iceland is a land of natural disasters, where people live in close proximity with the strong forces of nature. On January 23rd 1973, a volcanic eruption began in Vestmannaeyjar. This was the first eruption that started in an inhabited area in Iceland. Around 5.000 people fled from the island when a volcanic fissure opened in the east side of the town. Six months later, when the eruption ended, one third of the settlement had succumbed to lava and pumice.

Elísabet Arnoddsdóttir at the remains of her’s family house that went under the lava.

The documentary My unfamiliar home – accepting the volcano seeks to shed a light on the inner struggle of those who experienced the eruption and its consequences. Is that struggle truly over? Have these individuals come to terms with this event 40 years later?

Although the volcanic eruption in 1973 has been the material of many TV shows and films throughout the years, this is the first documentary where the focus is on the human spirit of those that experienced the disaster.

Kristinn Þórir Sigurðsson looks at a sign that marks where his childhood street is buried under the lava.

The documentary was made in 2013, 40 years after the eruption took place. It was premiered in a local theatre in Vestmannaeyjar and shown on RÚV (The Icelandic National Broadcasting Service).


profile_jyjJóhanna Ýr Jónsdóttir is born and raised in Vestmannaeyjar. She was born one year after the eruption and has always wanted to learn more about the old town she never got to know. Jóhanna Ýr is a historian and wrote her Bachelor thesis on World War II and its effects on everyday life in Vestmannaeyjar. The idea of the documentary came about following a historical project Jóhanna Ýr did about the eruption when she was a curator of the Folk Museum in Vestmannaeyjar.

profile_sjSighvatur Jónsson is also born and raised in Vestmannaeyjar. He was born two years after the eruption and shares Jóhanna’s interest in the untold stories of the event. Sighvatur has been in the media business since 1996 and has produced numerous projects for both radio and TV. Sighvatur studied Multimedia Design and Computer Science and runs the production company SIGVA media.



Producers: Jóhanna Ýr Jónsdóttir & Sighvatur Jónsson
Original music: Birgir Nielsen & Ágúst Óskar Gústafsson
Year of production: 2013
Running time: 66:50 min.
Language: Icelandic
Subtitles: Icelandic, English, Danish, Norwegian, Swedish, German & Spanish
Published and distributed by SIGVA media © 2013


Online Screener Available
Contact SIGVA media for access to an online screener of the documentary with subtitles in 7 languages.

One Sheet Presentations
English (.pdf – 1,5 MB)
Norsk (.pdf – 1,5 MB)


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