Connect with us
Reykjavik International Film Festival

Culture

The Reykjavik International Film Festival points to growing success in Icelandic cinema 

Many Icelanders paint an exceptionally modest portrait of themselves. In Reykjavík, locals often apologized for cold demeanors and dry senses of humor, while simultaneously offering warm gestures to complete strangers. Some spoke of their film industry in the same self-deprecating light by acknowledging its small size. But from an outside perspective, Iceland is already setting itself apart as a world of explosive creative talent that has nowhere to go but up. 

This year the Reykjavík International Film Festival celebrated its 19th year with an impressive lineup of Icelandic and Nordic films swirled together with international features and shorts from all over the world. The 10-day festival also dedicated special sections to the Faroe Islands, Spanish cinema, Inuit “Chills and Thrills,” and Indigenous entries. 

In an interview, festival director Hrönn Marinósdóttir said that the aim of RIFF is not just to “encourage discussion in society to widen angles” but also present “Iceland as a film country and Reykjavik as a film city bursting with energy and creativity.”

RIFF closing ceremonies at the Háskólabíó (University Cinema) on Saturday, October 8th.

For an isolated country bordering on the North Atlantic Ocean, and a population of around 365,000, Iceland has an interesting set of challenges when it comes to creating and distributing films. 

In Beautiful Beings, Iceland’s official International submission for the 2023 Oscars, director Guðmundur Arnar Guðmundsson personally trained his young cast for months leading up to the feature because of the limited amounts of young professional actors at his disposal. 

At various RIFF panels, industry professionals and producers also recognized how reliant the country was on co-producing with neighboring countries to pool resources and hire crews. 

Despite these inherent challenges and the obstacles that popped up during the pandemic, 2021 proved to be a record year for Iceland when it came to production. 

RIFF’s growing staff, variety of panels, and thick program brochures are proof that Reykjavik’s recognition and love of cinema are skyrocketing alongside its productions. Many of the producers foster films for future festivals by welcoming filmmakers to their Talent Lab, funding student films, and connecting burgeoning directors through Q&As and pitch panels. 

(From left to right) Producer’s Day panel with Lilja Björk Guðmundsdóttir, Dyveke Bjørkly Graver, Mark Lwoff, Jasmine Naghizadeh, and Jón Hammer. 

At an environment impact panel, director Rebekka Nystabakk premiered the trailer for her documentary “Woolly.” In the project, Nystabakk hones in on her family’s Norwegian sheep farm as it passes hands from her aging father to her younger sister. Even from a two-minute glance, the impressive trailer promised insights into sustainability, familial love, and the brutal honesty of raising livestock. 

“My father always told me that you should be able to look into the eyes of every animal you own, every day,” Nystabakk told the audience. 

Although the documentary isn’t set to release until early 2004, RIFF was already finding ways to support early production stages, giving Nystabakk and other filmmakers a platform for the future. 

Director Olaf de Fleur, known for Malevolent (2018) and The Amazing Truth About Queen Raquela (2008), came to RIFF to promote his latest documentary King of the Butterflies (2022). 

The director said he was practically “born with a passport” in his hand and often flies to Los Angeles to seek out new film projects, but he always finds himself returning to Reykjavík. 

“Sometimes something just pulls you like a magnet and you have to go somewhere and stay somewhere and do something, and you don’t know why,” de Fleur explained. “Traveling helps me appreciate the energy here in Iceland.” 

Still from Olaf de Fleur’s documentary King of the Butterflies starring Darryl Francis. 

Written By

Meghan Cook is a comedy writer currently residing in North Carolina with one cat and fifty shows in her Netflix queue (that she will get to eventually).

2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Alice Hofmeister

    October 16, 2022 at 12:09 pm

    Great article about a fascinating country!

  2. Meghan

    October 21, 2022 at 4:01 pm

    Author update: The upcoming documentary Woolly is set to release in 2024.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Facebook

Trending

BEST AEW PPV Matches 2022 BEST AEW PPV Matches 2022

Best AEW PPV Matches of 2022

Wrestling

Godzilla vs. Gigan Rex Godzilla vs. Gigan Rex

Godzilla vs. Gigan Rex Review: One of Godzilla’s Finest Recent Outings

Culture

Lost Bullet 2 Lost Bullet 2

Lost Bullet 2 Delivers The Finest of Vehicular Mayhem

Film

Greatest Film Noir Movies Greatest Film Noir Movies

Noirvember: 50 Greatest Film Noir Movies Part 1

Culture

Long-Awaited 5-25-77 is a Coming-of-Age Triumph 

Film

Noirvember: 50 Greatest Film Noir Movies Part 2 Noirvember: 50 Greatest Film Noir Movies Part 2

Noirvember: 50 Greatest Film Noir Movies Part 2

Culture

Blockbuster, photo via Netflix Blockbuster, photo via Netflix

Blockbuster: Netflix’s Latest Workplace Comedy Misses the Mark

Culture

What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? Personifies A Duel for the Ages

Culture

Streaming services Streaming services

Streaming Wars and Streaming Headaches

Culture

Prince Namor The Submariner Prince Namor The Submariner

Who is Prince Namor, the Sub-Mariner in Wakanda Forever?

Culture

Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio movie review Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio movie review

Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio Breathes New Life into the Classic Fable

Culture

Netflix's The Watcher Netflix's The Watcher

Netflix’s The Watcher (2022) and Thoughts on Ambiguous TV Mystery Endings

TV

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (2022) review Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (2022) review

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is a Flawed but Worthy Follow-Up

Film

A Dickensian Disaster: Spirited is a Practically Unwatchable Take on A Christmas Carol

Film

Philadelphia Film Festival Philadelphia Film Festival

2022 Philadelphia Film Festival Feature Roundup

Film

Montreal Screwjob Montreal Screwjob

25 Years of the Montreal Screwjob, the Moment that Changed Everything in Wrestling 

Culture

Connect