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REPORT: Reykjavik Works in Process 2016

by Jorn Rossing Jensen

With a population of just 330,000, Iceland is preparing nine new feature films, presented by the Icelandic Film Centre

REPORT: Reykjavik Works in Process 2016

“The current temperature of Icelandic cinema is warm, and we really like it when it is warm up here in the North,” Laufey Guðjónsdóttir, CEO of the Icelandic Film Centre, explained. The nation’s central film institution has been led by the executive since its establishment in 2003.

“The industry has been trending upwards over the last few years, both in terms of creativity, but also in local box office, international sales, festival selections, and even prizes. Those in Iceland who turn up to cinemas may be few in number, yet still up to a third of the 330,000 people in the country watch local films and TV drama on television.”

Guðjónsdóttir was moderating the presentation of new Icelandic features at the recent Reykjavik International Film Festival, where directors and producers introduced their upcoming features – “a very interesting mix, I think, both of genres and artistically challenging productions, and there are many films by female directors who have finished their studies.”

The Icelandic Film Centre has an annual budget of approximately €5 million to support feature films, with an additional €2 million allocated to documentaries, shorts and other assignments, including distribution and exhibition. “The advisory board will shortly deliver its proposals for a new film agreement, and we hope it will include a much-needed budget increase,” she said.

Following the lead of Icelandic filmmaker Rúnar Rúnarsson’s Sparrows, which won 14 international festival awards and is nominated for the Nordic Council Film Prize, and his compatriot Baltsasar Kormakur’s The Oath, which was in the running at San Sebastian, Guðmundur Arnar Guðmundsson’s Heartstone– which received the Queer Lion in Venice – will be the next local release, slated for early 2017. 

It will be followed next year by the various films, currently at different stages of production, presented at the festival:

AlmaKristín Johannesdóttir
Produced by Gudrún Edda Thórhannesdóttir for DUO Productions.
A drama about a woman who has spent seven years in a psychiatric institute for murdering her lover, an act she has no memory of. When he is found to be alive, she escapes with the intention of really killing him but changes her mind.

Under the TreeHafstein Gunnar Sigurdsson
Produced by Klaudia Smieja, Beata Rzezniczek and Jacob Jarek for Netop Films.
This drama follows the increasingly absurd and violent quarrel between neighbours over a big and beautiful tree.

The SwanÁsa Helga Hjörleifsdóttir
Produced by Birgitta Björnsdóttir and Hlin Jóhannesdóttir for Vintage Pictures.
A drama following a nine-year-old girl who is sent to the countryside one summer to work and, hopefully, mature. She suddenly finds herself entangled in a conflict that she can hardly understand.

I Remember YouÓskar Thór Axelsson
Produced by Skúli Malmquist, Thor Sigurjonsson and Sigurjón Sighvatsson for Zik Zak Filmworks.
A thriller depicting three young people’s efforts to restore a rundown building in a remote fjord. Their innocent trip turns into their worst nightmare.

The Wind Blew OnKatrin Ólafsdóttir
Produced by Katrin Olafsdóttir and Eva Sigurdardóttir for International Incoherence.
A post-apocalyptic western with musical elements, it shows a young boy travelling across a desert planet in search of a forest – a promised land – and his fantasies of adulthood.

Child EaterErlingur Óttar Thoroddsen
Produced by Pétur Sigurdsson and Des McAnuff, for Wheelhouse Creative.
A horror film, during which a simple night of babysitting becomes a terrifying experience for Helen, after she discovers that the bogeyman is hiding in her son, Lucas’, closet.

Winter BrothersHlynur Pálmason
Produced by Julie Waltersdorph Hansen and Per Damgaard Hansen, for Masterpiece Pictures.
A drama portraying the routines, habits and rituals of two brothers who are involved in a violent feud with another family. 

Prisoners - Ragnar Bragason
Produced by David Óskar Ólafsson and Árni Filippusson for Mystery Productions.
A drama following Linda, who, after a lifetime of mistakes, is serving time in Iceland’s only women’s prison. She has been convicted for assault, having put her father in a coma, but she has one other dark secret.

Hulli 2 - Hugleikur Dagsson
Produced by Björn Thórir Sigurdsson, for RVK Studios.
An animated comedy about Hulli, whose career is on the decline. His filthy cartoons, which used to be his main source of income, are no longer selling, because kids don’t read anymore – they watch.