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Country Focus: Iceland

Creative boom explodes on world screens (2)


Creative boom explodes on world screens (2)

- “The domestic release of so many Icelandic films in a short period of time is partly a coincidence, partly due to the fact that we’re in a real creative boom,” says Laufey Guðjónsdóttir, head of the Icelandic Film Centre (IFC). “Although our industry is still very young – less than 30 years old - we now have very interesting filmmakers from the third generation coming in, who can rely on older, more experienced producers. Also, filmmakers are more creative, making films based on original screenplays, not only book adaptations.”

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The rise of television drama spearheaded by the creation of a new television fund a couple of years ago, run by the IFC, has also been very positive for the local industry. “Like in Denmark, we see a transfer of filmmakers from film to TV and vice-versa. This has put a lot of new energy into the filmmaking community," continues Guðjónsdóttir.

Iceland’s most innovative theatre company, Vesturport, is another rich source of inspiration and talent for filmmakers, such as Ragnar Bragason, who wrote the twin films Children [+see also:
film review
film profile
and Parents with and for Vesturport actors

Among the most dynamic local production houses, Zik Zak Filmworks, headed by Skúli Malmquist and Thor Sigurjónsson, is actively involved in nurturing and supporting new talent. The company is enjoying the success of Solveigh Anspach’s Back Soon [+see also:
film profile
and Runár Rúnarsson’s short film Two Birds, while putting the final touches on two very different films.

The first is Undercurrent, a thriller set on a fishing boat based on a successful Vesturport play. Árni Óli Ásgeirsson (Thicker than Water [+see also:
film profile
) is directing. The second film is the English-language A Good Heart by Dagur Kári, starring Paul Dano, Brian Cox and Isild leBesco, now in the early stages of editing. Wild Bunch handles sales.

Kisi Production, run by filmmaker Julius Kemp and producer Ignvar Thordarson, has tapped into another potentially lucrative filmmaking sector in Iceland: film studios. With the country currently offering a 14% tax rebate on shooting in Iceland, the two entrepreneurs decided to invest €5m into rehabilitating an old NATO army base into brand new film studios outside of Reykjavik, to provide cover for film crews in case of bad weather. Kemp, who directed last year’s biggest hit in Iceland, the comedy Astropia, has just inaugurated his studios this month with the shooting of thriller Reykjavik Whale Watch Massacre. Now he and several other producers are lobbying the government to up this tax rebate to 20%. Iceland is a hot place to be.


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