Country Focus: Iceland
Creative boom explodes on world screens (1)
by Annika Pham
08/09/2008 - For a country whose film industry produces no more than a handful of films each year, having two to three films on domestic and foreign screens at the same time is an amazing hit rate. Pure coincidence for some, the fact is that Iceland, where film buffs are the most active in the world, is in a creative boom far outreaching its rugged and icy shores.
Solveigh Anspach’s comedy Back Soon [trailer] just won the Variety Piazza Grande Award in Locarno and is currently screening in Iceland and in France, supported by rave reviews. Country Wedding [trailer], the directorial debut of veteran editor Valdís Óskarsdóttir (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) just hit third place at the local box office and is heading for its world premiere in Toronto’s Contemporary World Cinema section. Fortissimo is handling world sales.
Another wedding-themed movie, White Night Wedding [trailer], Iceland’s biggest local success of 2008, will also use Toronto as an international launching pad. The film by Iceland’s star actor/director Baltasar Kormákur is sold by Celluloid Dreams. Meanwhile, Kormákur’s 2006 domestic hit Jar City [trailer] is having a second life. After Denmark last Friday, the film will open in France on September 10 (Memento Films) and two days later in the UK (The Works).
Son of a Catalan father and an Icelandic mother, the 42 year-old Kormákur has in the last decade taken over the role of local godfather and foreign ambassador, previously held by Fridrik Thor Fridriksson (Children of Nature) in the 1990s. Since his first feature film 101 Reykjavik (2000), Kormákur’s popularity, both as an actor and director for stage and cinema, has been steadily increasing, and his company Blueeyes backs other local fare.
For instance, the Icelandic/Dutch co-productionReykjavik, Rotterdam by Óskar Jónasson (Remote Control), in which Kormákur stars, will open in Iceland in October (Sena). So will Olaf de Fleur Johannesson’s docu-fiction and festival hit The Amazing Truth About Queen Raquela [trailer], also co-produced by Blueeyes.