Iceland competing for the first time at the Venice Film Festival
by Jorn Rossing Jensen
- Guðmundur Arnar Guðmundsson’s debut feature, Heartstone, and Danish documentary The War Show will screen in the Venice Days
Icelandic director Guðmundur Arnar Guðmundsson’s feature debut, Heartstone [+see also:
interview: Guðmundur Arnar Guðmundsson
film profile], will be Iceland’s first competition entry at the Venice International Film Festival, after it was selected as one of the 12 entries in the Venice Days section. The festival takes place between 31 August and 10 September.
Also scripted by Guðmundsson, Heartstone is set during a turbulent summer in a remote fishing village in Iceland. Teenage boy Thor tries to win the heart of a girl, while his mate Christian discovers new feelings towards his best friend. And then it is time to leave the playground and face the acrimony of adulthood.
The group of Icelandic actors starring in the movie – Baldur Einarsson, Blaer Hinriksson, Diljá Valsdóttir, Katla Njálsdóttir, Jónína Thórdís Karlsdóttir, Rán Ragnarsdóttir, Daníel Hans Erlendsson, Theodór Pálsson and Sveinn Sigurbjörnsson – are supported by veterans Nína Dögg Filippusdóttir, Sveinn Ólafur Gunnarsson, Nanna Kristín Magnúsdóttir, Gunnar Jónsson and Denmark’s Søren Malling.
Guðmundsson has previously directed four shorts, including Whale Valley (2013), which won 45 international awards. His first feature was produced by Anton Máni Svansson and Guðmundsson for Iceland’s Join Motion Pictures, and Lise Orheim Stender and Jesper Morthorst for Denmark’s SF Studios Production. Berlin-based Films Boutique handles the international sales.
A Danish documentary, Andreas Dalsgaard, Obaidah Zytoon and Marie Skovgaard’s The War Show [+see also:
interview: Andreas Dalsgaard
film profile], will open the Venice Days section. Scripted by Dalsgaard and Zytoon, it was produced by Miriam Nørgaard, Alaa Hassan and Ronnie Fridthjof for Denmark’s Fridthjof Film, with Dharmafilm and Finland’s Oktober.
The film tracks the destiny of Syria after the 2011 uprising. Zytoon, a Syrian radio DJ, and her friends live in a circle of artists and activists, and begin to film their lives as they take to the streets to rally against the regime. But as the country spirals into a bloody civil war, their friendships are tested by imprisonment, death and violence. Zytoon leaves Damascus and travels to her hometown of Zabadani, the centre of rebellion in the Homs province, and to northern Syria, where she witnesses the rise of extremism.
The War Show is Dalsgaard’s sixth full-length documentary; most recently, he made Life Is Sacred (2014), about the rule of drug cartels in Colombia.