This year, from September 23rd to October 3rd, the Reykjavík International Film Festival will be held for the seventh time. The seventh year is known to be a tricky one. Marriages at this milestone go through rough patches and ‘they’ say that it is in this special year the future of the relationship is decided: either it ends in a divorce or in happily-ever-after, till-death-do-us-part perfection.
PR Manager of the Reykjavik International Film Festival (RIFF) Jóhann Bjarni Kolbeinsson and his team are busily working to get the program ready for this year’s festival. “There will be around 100 films from all over the world screened in the eleven days of the festival”, says Jóhann. The 2009 RIFF showcased about 120 films. “It was maybe too much last year, so we decided to cut it down a little bit – not too much, but a little bit”, Jóhann explains. Fourty-four films have been announced so far but the number of confirmed films will grow daily until RIFF meets its target.
There are no major changes at this year’s festival. There will be twelve films from young filmmakers competing for the Golden Puffin Award in the New Visions category. This award, designed to acknowledge the work of new industry talent, is RIFF’s main prize. A team of international experts, including the director of RIFF, Hrönn Marinósdóttir, attended many international film festivals, took in a lot of films and brought home a berth of possible competitors.
The other films of the festival will be organised in various non-competitive categories like Doc in Focus for documentaries or Sound on Sight for music related movies. Showing six short films and documentaries from Icelandic filmmakers in the Icelandic Panorama, there will be a focus on local filmmaking. Jóhann has good feeling that they will premier an Icelandic full-length feature film at this year’s festival as well. Swedish and Polish filmmakers will also have their own section to showcase their latest films.
The Glamour of Independent Filmmaking
Film festivals focus on screened movies, but let’s be honest, everyone loves glamour, the red carpet and celebrities. Having this year’s guest of honour Jim Jarmusch in town, Reykjavík will become a Mecca for film buffs. Jarmusch, director of such films as Broken Flowers, Coffee & Cigarettes and Down By Law, is one of the most important independent filmmakers around – or, as Jóhann insists, he’s “the most important independent film-maker at the moment”. He will show some of his work, including one early film called “You Are Not I,” which Jarmusch made with his wife Sara Driver in 1981.There are some more big names to be confirmed, but Jóhann refuses to reveal them just yet. The only thing he will say is: “We are working on it.”
When you observe Jóhann and RIFF team ‘working on it,’ you get the feeling that they don’t believe in such superstitious things as the seven-year itch. Organisers of a film festival, like spouses, know that it’s not luck or fate that provides the happily-ever-after, till-death-do-us-part perfection – it’s hard work.
Film Festival Forecast
Canadian and Icelandic Expertise in the Jury for The Golden Puffin Award
There will be an international jury of five people deciding which film in the New Visions category will receive the main price – The Golden Puffin Award. One confirmed member of the jury is Cameron Bailey, co-director of the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). Being programmer of the TFF for long years, Bailey founded the Planet Africa section and headed the Perspective Canada series at the Canadian film festival. Valdís Óskarsdóttir, an Icelandic film editor, is the second confirmed member of the jury. In 2004 she won the BAFTA Award for Best Editing, for editing The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.
Moving Images and Music at Hallgrímskirkja
Famous Icelandic musician Jóhann Jóhannson is going to play his music in his home country the first time in four years. Composing soundtracks for feature films and documentaries, Jóhann Jóhannson composes most of his music related to moving images. On October 1st in Reykjavik´s Hallgrímskirkja, his music will be accompanied by moving pictures from Magnús Helgason. Magnús has made visuals specially for Jóhann’s music, which have been screened at Jóhann’s concerts around the world.
Music Film Artist Vincent Moon Will Portrait Local Music Acts
Mathieu Saura aka Vincent Moon is an independent filmmaker from Paris who devotes himself to capturing music in motion pictures. His work includes documentaries and music videos of indie rock related musicians like Sigur Rós or Grizzly Bear, and also popular artists such as R.E.M. or Tom Jones. Accompanying them with his hand-held camera, Vincent Moon follows the musicians to the most intimate places. With the RIFF, Vincent Moon will gather some local Icelandic bands and artists in a special place in the Reykjavik surroundings in order to shoot another one more of his intimate Take Away Shows.
“Kids” Actor Leo Fitzpatrick Starring In An Icelandic Short Movie
Knowledgy, a black-comedy short film, will premiere at this years RIFF. A naive Icelandic couple becomes entangled in an American cult. Leo Fitzpatrick, known for his lead in Kids (1995), is playing an exchange student who documents the events for a school project. This short film is the final project of Hrefna Hagalín and Kristín Bára Haraldsdóttir at the Icelandic Film Academy. Mentor on the project was the Icelandic director Dagur Kári Pétursson (Nói Albinói, Dark Horse, The Good Heart).
For further information visit www.riff.is.