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EXCLUSIVE: First look at Ásthildur Kjartansdóttir’s third feature, The Mountain


- The coming-of-age tale follows a happy family tested by tragedy and forced to find a new path forward

EXCLUSIVE: First look at Ásthildur Kjartansdóttir’s third feature, The Mountain
Ísadóra Bjarkardóttir Barney (left) and Björn Hlynur Haraldsson in The Mountain (© Sandra Dögg Jónsdóttir/Film Partner Iceland)

Ásthildur Kjartansdóttir’s third feature, titled The Mountain, is now in post-production. Before embarking on her latest project, the Icelandic filmmaker has been active as a director and producer since the mid-1980s. Her credits span documentaries, TV shows and shorts, as well as the fiction features The Deposit [+see also:
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(2018) and Acting Out (2021). 

The Mountain, penned by the director herself, promises to be a coming-of-age story “about love and the loss of love”. In detail, the plot zooms in on an electrician called Atli, who lives in Iceland with his wife Maria, an avid stargazer, and their nineteen-year-old daughter Anna, a musician. They are a happy family until they are tested by tragedy, which forces them to find a new path forward.

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The picture was shot on location in the town of Hafnarfjörður, Iceland’s third largest city, and in the country’s Highlands.

The cast is led by Björn Hlynur Haraldsson and Ísadóra Bjarkardóttir Barney (daughter of singer Björk and artist Matthew Barney, in what is her first major film role), alongside Þröstur Leó Gunnarsson, Sólveig Guðmundsdóttir, Anna Svava Knútsdóttir and Vilberg Andri Pálsson.

Key crew members are cinematographer Bergsteinn Björgúlfsson, editor Stefanía Thórs, production designer Sólrún Ósk Jónsdóttir, costume designer Rebekka Jónsdóttir, and make-up artist Ísak Freyr Helgason.

Budgeted at €1.4 million, The Mountain is being produced by Anna Guðbjörg Magnúsdóttir for Icelandic outfits Film Partner Iceland and Rebella Filmworks. Anders Granström is co-producing for Sweden’s LittleBig Productions. The project received backing from the Icelandic Film Centre, RÚV, the Ministry of Innovation and Green Lighting Studio.

Speaking to Cineuropa, Magnúsdóttir said: "Currently in post-production, The Mountain was filmed on location in Hafnarfjörður, a town just outside Reykjavík, and in the highlands of Iceland during late autumn 2023. A stellar cast and a skilled team made invaluable contributions to the creation of this powerful and visually stunning movie.”

“Additionally, everyone enthusiastically embraced our goal of conducting a sustainable, green production. The Mountain is the first officially vetted sustainable production in Iceland, marking a significant milestone and contributing to the establishment of a standard for sustainability in the Icelandic film industry.”

The feature’s domestic release, handled by SAM-bíóin, is slated for winter 2024/2025. Njutafilms is in charge of its Swedish distribution, with a release date yet to be confirmed. Nordic Sales Green Lighting Studio is selling it worldwide.

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