Iceland

Nietzchka Keene – The Juniper Tree (1990)

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An unsung talent in her lifetime, director, professor and Fulbright scholar Nietzchka Keene’s stark, stunning debut feature The Juniper Tree is loosely based on a Brothers Grimm fairy tale of the same name, and stars Björk in her first on-screen performance. The film premiered to glowing reviews at the Sundance Film Festival in 1991 and led Keene to further direct Heroine of Hell (1996) starring Catherine Keener and Barefoot to Jerusalem (2008), the latter completed after her tragically early death in 2004. Read More »

Ágúst Guðmundsson – Land og synir AKA Land and Sons (1980)

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Icelandic Film Centre wrote: The film is based on the novel by Indridi G. Thorsteinsson, which is set in a remote valley in the North of Iceland in the year 1937.The slump and sheep disease are crippling farming; young peple are streaming to the centres of urban expansion in this period of rapid economic and social change in Iceland. One farmer and his sons live in the valley alone with their debts and anxieties. The ties which bind the father to the land he has cultivated and lived upon are unbreakable. Read More »

Ragnar Bragason – Foreldrar AKA Parents (2007)

Foreldrar was the big winner at the Eddas ceremony (the yearly Icelandic film prize) winning a total of six Eddas.

In modern day Reykjavik, dark secrets come to light when an unhappy dentist, a lovelorn businessman and a young mother fleeing her troubled past meet by chance.

Inspired by the largely improvisational, collaborative methods of Jean-Luc Godard, John Cassavetes and Mike Leigh. In conjunction with actors from the Icelandic theatrical troupe Vesturport, who based their characters on real people, director Ragnar Bragason has produced an unsentimental dramatic study of parenthood in all its potential for fulfillment, suffering and self-discovery. Read More »

Kristín Jóhannesdóttir – Glerbrot AKA Broken Glass (1988)

Here we have a true rarity, an Icelandic WIP exploitation horror love story. Teenage girl (played by the singer Björk at the time when she was on the brink of becoming a world famous musician) is taken against her will from her dysfunctional home by the authorities and moved to an isolated and strict religious institution in the countryside where she and other girls at her age are kept imprisoned and harassed sexually. The film is loosely inspired by a true case involving the Salvation Army that became very controversial in the country two decades earlier. The film score is by Hilmar Örn Hilmarsson, the current Chieftain of the Asa Faith Society in Iceland. Read More »

Loftur Guðmundsson – Ísland í lifandi myndum AKA Iceland in Moving Pictures (1925)

There is very little information available online on this little gem, the first ‘feature-length’ film shot exclusively in Iceland by an Icelandic director, the pioneer Loftur Guðmundsson. Director and crew travelled all around the country with the ambitious goal of documenting all the aspects of the local life at the time. Fishing plays an important role (being then, by far, the number one national industry); one can also witness the humble beginnings of ‘city-life’ in the capital, one of the first (or was it the very first?) cars driving in Iceland, beautiful pastoral shots of farm-lands, ladies posing in the national costume, as well as fighters indulging in the national sport, ‘glyma’. The 21st century traveller will be able to recognize a number of landmarks. The images are often naive, genuine, and captivating. In my opinion one of the most valuable Icelandic films. –Ewolve Read More »

Óskar Jónasson – Sódóma Reykjavík AKA Remote Control (1992)

Since his mother wants to watch TV, Axel, a young auto-mechanic, must recover her remote control, accidentally taken by his punk sister Maja. During his quest, he becomes involved in the conflict between Moli, the liquor smuggler, and Aggi, a night club owner who wants to be Iceland’s first mafia boss. Read More »

Sólveig Anspach – Skrapp út AKA Back Soon (2008)

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Back Soon is a shift from the serious tone of Solveig Anspach’s previous films to something much more light-hearted. In this off-the-wall comedy, Anna Hallgrimsdottir, in her late thirties, is undergoing an existential crisis. She decides to quit her job, sell her business to the highest bidder, and leave with her two sons… but being a dope dealer, the biggest supplier on the island, complicates things somewhat. Back Soon, an offbeat Scandinavian farce, full of imaginative flights of fancy, reveals a whole new aspect to Solveig Anspach. Following a documentary made in 2001, this is her first fiction feature, a co-production with Iceland, where it was filmed. Read More »