Ingibjörg Halldórsdóttir • Co-founder, IceDocs Iceland Documentary Film Festival
“We try our best to showcase how broad a medium creative documentary can be”
- The fourth edition of the Akranes-based documentary festival wrapped on 26 June, and we chatted to one of its co-founders about this year's iteration and the future of the gathering
Running for the fourth consecutive year, the IceDocs Iceland Documentary Film Festival wrapped on Sunday 26 June when it handed out its awards (see the news). Cineuropa attended the event in Akranes, a town of 8,000 inhabitants on the west coast of Iceland, and had a chance to talk to Ingibjörg Halldórsdóttir, one of the festival’s co-founders (alongside Heiðar Mar Björnsson and Hallur Örn Árnason), regarding this year’s edition as well as the upcoming ones.
Cineuropa: What were the challenges this year in running the fourth edition of IceDocs, and what was different compared to previous years?
Ingibjörg Halldórsdóttir: The team for our first edition was more international, but the pandemic made it impossible for most of them to work on location. The challenge was then to have a vision for something international and keep the format, even when no international guests could attend. We have been very lucky, having had two in-person events during breaks in the pandemic, but most of the local team had not experienced the festival as it had been intended, so it was a pleasure to finally have them experience it to the fullest. This year, the biggest challenge was probably the boom in festivals and events that emerged after the restrictions were lifted. There was this two-year build-up of events, and it made all kinds of small, simple things more complicated.
Having a documentary festival in Akranes, a small town in Iceland, might seem idyllic and has the potential to forge stronger bonds among the attendees. Is this something that you still see happening, and would you change anything about this structure?
We’ve seen the location as our biggest advantage right from the beginning, and we plan to take full advantage of it in the future. We want to be a festival where local audiences can see a good selection of films, where local filmmakers can make connections with the international industry and where the international filmmakers and industry can form strong connections. There are, of course, small tweaks to be made, and it will evolve, but for now, we are happy with the setup and it seems our guests appreciate it as well. We’ve got some great feedback from them.
There were various topics explored in this year’s selection, rather than just a single, trending one, but in your experience, what documentaries are particularly important for IceDocs?
With a small selection like ours, we try our best to showcase how broad a medium creative documentary can be. For us, as islanders, I think it’s especially important to get a broad view of the world, which seems so far away but is still so close. We’ll continue focusing on the medium and highlighting stories that would otherwise not be seen or heard over here. One of the greatest satisfactions is meeting people in the grocery store and them telling you how a story they’ve seen with us is still with them months later.
During one of the “Let’s Talk Docs” industry sessions, there was a discussion on the idea of creating a network of film festivals that share the same ideas in terms of how to approach documentaries and how to present them to audiences. Could you provide us with some more details on that?
Gladly, although it’s still taking shape. We are currently a small group of European festivals with common principles forming a network aimed at supporting filmmakers and bringing films to audiences in a more relaxed manner than they would reach them traditionally. Ours are festivals of creative documentaries that focus on the overall experience for audiences, staff and guests, and try their best to let individual movies and their filmmakers shine as well as bringing knowledge to their local communities. We hope to launch it in the coming months.
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