Icelandic films won 102 awards at international festivals last year
by Jorn Rossing Jensen
- The small country – with a population of 331,000 and an annual production of up to ten features – more than tripled its haul from 2014
A small country, with a population of 331,000, Iceland nevertheless produces up to ten films a year (as it did in 2011); last year, the feature output was down to eight. Still, Icelandic films were selected at almost 300 international festivals, going on to win 102 awards (up significantly from 34 in 2014 and 31 in 2013).
The highlight of the 2015 banner year was Icelandic director Grimur Hákonarson’s Rams [+see also:
interview: Grimur Hakonarson
film profile], shot in the remote valley of Bárdardalur in northern Iceland and centring on two brothers, who live side by side but have not spoken in 40 years; now, they must come together to save what is dearest to them: their sheep. Rams was victorious in the Un Certain Regard section at the Cannes International Film Festival – Iceland’s first prize on the Côte d’Azur. The title picked up 22 awards in total.
Rúnar Rúnarsson's Sparrows [+see also:
interview: Atli Óskar Fjalarsson
interview: Rúnar Rúnarsson
film profile] – a coming-of-age story about 16-year-old Ari, who has been living with his mother in Reykjavik, but is now sent back to his father in the remote Westfjords – received the Golden Shell for Best Film at the San Sebastián International Film Festival and was named Best Film in the 1-2 Competition at the Warsaw International Film Festival. In total, it raked in ten awards.
Dagur Kári's Virgin Mountain [+see also:
film profile] – the portrayal of a 43-year-old man who still lives with his mother, and whose monotonous life and old bachelor habits are suddenly turned upside down – was awarded the prestigious Nordic Council Film Prize. In addition, it won in another three categories at New York’s Tribeca Film Festival, besides pocketing prizes at other gatherings. It snagged a total of 14 awards.
This year, six to seven new Icelandic features will open, with high expectations abounding for veteran director Baltasar Kormákur’s thriller The Oath [+see also:
film profile], produced by Magnús Vidar Sigurdsson and Kormákur for RVK Studios. Scripted by Ólafur Egill Egilsson and the director, it tells the story of a respectable heart surgeon and father of two, whose life is seriously affected when his daughter introduces her manipulative, drug-dealing boyfriend to the family.
Hopes are also high for award-winning director Gudmundur Arnar Gudmundsson’s feature debut, Heartstone [+see also:
interview: Guðmundur Arnar Guðmundsson
film profile], which is being staged by Anton Máni Svansson, Lise Orheim Stender, Jesper Morthorst and Gudmundsson for Iceland’s Join Motion Pictures and Denmark’s SF Film. It follows two boys sharing a journey of friendship and love, as one tries to win the heart of a girl, while the other discovers new feelings towards his best friend.