Country Focus: Iceland
Record number of domestic films in theatres
by Annika Pham
- As many as four films by Icelandic directors were in the local box office Top Ten last weekend, almost the yearly production output.
Baldvin Z’s feature debut Jitters kept its second place in its second weekend for SamFilm. The film produced by the Icelandic Film Company in co-production with the UK’s F&ME benefitted from its clear targeting of the under-25 audience and positive reviews.
Baltasar Kormákur’s English-language Inhale, a story of organ trafficking starring Dermot Mulroney and Diane Kruger, opened at number four, released on two screens by Sena. The US/Icelandic picture was minority co-produced by Kormákur’s Blueeyes Productions.
The thriller Undercurrent by Árni Ólafur Ásgeirsson was number eight after its third weekend on release, and the children’s film The Secret Spell was number nine with over 35,000 admissions over its seventh weekend according to trade association SMAIS.
Another four films should open by the end of the year: Gaukur Ullfarson’s documentary Gnarr; Rockland, the second film by Marteinn St Thorsson (One Point O); Rock Bottom by Börkur Gunnarsson, who in 2004 directed the Czech film Bitter Coffee; and youth film Hullabaloo by Gunnar Björn Gudmunsson (Astropia).
The record number of local titles queuing for a domestic release is not a planned strategy, however, but a mere coincidence. Laufey Guðjónsdóttir, head of the Icelandic Film Centre, said some of the films are simply ready at the same time after having been stuck in the turmoil of the financial crisis, unable to finalize post-production as originally planned. The economic outlook for 2011 does not look much rosier: “Filmmaking in Iceland is like a train gradually slowing down. I’m afraid we’re coming to a standstill,” she said.
The 2010 film budget that was cut by 34%, to slightly over €2, will most likely lose another 8% next year. For Guðjónsdóttir, this will have a repercussion on the promotional budget set aside for sending talent to festivals.
On a brighter note, two highly anticipated local feature films will premiere in 2011: Kormákur’s new domestic project, The Deep, and Volcano, the feature debut of the multiple award-winning shorts filmmaker Rúnar Rúnarsson.