just a few things

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