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About the Film

Barbarian Press is a short documentary that tells the story of Jan and Crispin Elsted, who for over 35 years have made fine art books by letterpress.

They live in Mission, BC Canada.

There are books written about living an authentic life. The lives of Jan and Crispin Elsted are inarguably authentic — not because they read books, but because they produce them using techniques hundreds of years old. Rather than embrace the “plastic fantastic” world emerging around them in the late 20th century, the Elsteds became fascinated with “the idea of being able to make things, to learn how it was done.” From their home filled with shelves of metal type and a variety of printing presses ranging from merely vintage to positively antique, the husband and wife team turn out books that are as much a joy to handle as they are to read. Filmmaker Sarah Race offers a film much like the Elsteds themselves: sentimental, contemplative, and genuine.

“They have created, and live, what might be called a handmade life, carrying on traditions and practices that have remained unchanged in their essentials since the fifteenth century, when Gutenberg modified a grape press in Mainz, Germany, and used it to print a bible. ”

— The Gutenberg Effect: Living a Handmade Life by Michael Hayward, Geist Magazine

about the



Sarah Race is a photographer and filmmaker based in Vancouver, Canada. Sarah’s approach to visual media is about building relationships with her subjects in order to truly connect with their stories and share their experiences through her work. Her expansive portfolio includes editorial, event coverage, human rights activism and fine art photography. Over the years, Sarah has earned a reputation for portraits that celebrate the beauty and diversity of atypical, sometimes marginalized subjects; it is the core of her philosophy and work. Barbarian Press is her first short film.

Her photography portfolio can be found here.

  • It is important, either by example or by direct instruction, to keep the craft alive, to make people aware of it. It is useful. It is not just a bit of excess. Beauty is an essential thing.

    Crispin ElstedBarbarian Press
  •  I don’t think we can separate ourselves and put everything out there on a screen or on a phone, we as human beings are always going to need that sense of touch, that sense of being organically of the world. I have to believe that. Humanity stops if we don’t keep doing that and that is not going to happen.

    Jan ElstedBarbarian Press

please enjoy

The Trailer


Catch the Barbarian Press documentary at the following festivals. Click the festival for screening dates and times.

Support the Film

Help us get the story of Barbarian Press out in the world! We need help from everyone who is passionate about books and typography. Jan and Crispin have spent their lives printing books as they were printed hundreds of years ago—their story should be shared! Here is how you can help:

  • Help us fund the cost of showing this film at festivals.
  • Connect us with festivals, libraries, museums and universities that may be interested in screening the film.
  • Interested in hosting a screening, contact Sarah here.
  • Come to one of our screenings and to tell your friends about them!
  • Tell us what you thought about the film. Message Sarah here.


Barbarian Press was filmed and produced by Sarah on a limited budget. Your donation will help her cover the cost file conversion, distribution and festival fees. Also, it would be really amazing if Sarah could raise enough money to attend the premiere in Toronto.

Should you wish to make a donation, please click on the donate button below. Please indicate if you would like your name included on the donors page of the website and if so, exactly as you’d like it to appear; or if you would prefer to remain anonymous. You can also email me if you prefer to send a cheque or if you are in Canada and wish to send an e-transfer (less fees this way). Also, I am always available for coffee.

Thanks for the support!

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