Skjaldborg, the festival of Icelandic documentaries, will be held for the 12th time around on the weekend of 18th-20th of May in the town Patreksfjörður in the Westfjords. The festival’s title is a reference to the local cinema, which goes by the same name. 18 Icelandic documentaries will be premiered during the festival this year, as well as some “works in progress.”
The festival is well known for bringing together the big guns of the Icelandic documentary field, and many collaborations have started during this festival. Along with premiering exciting new films, Skjaldborg festival is also known for its very vibrant and friendly atmosphere, and many exciting events. It includes an excellent local seafood feast, stand-up comedy, a parade through the town, a limbo competition, a masterclass with the guest of honour, and—last but not least—parties till the early hours, sometimes right on the beach.
If that doesn’t make you dream, just add the beautiful surroundings of Patreksfjörður, with untouched nature, a handful of natural geothermal pools, and one of Iceland’s best municipal swimming pools right in the centre of the town.
Helga Rakel Rafnsdóttir and Kristín Andrea Þórðardóttir are the main organisers of the festival. They work in the field of documentaries and have a noticeable passion for it. Helga and Kristín have taken part in the festival for a while, but this will be their second year running it.
“The festival is pure magic,” says Helga Rakel. “It’s a mix of locals and people coming from other parts of the world. Patreksfjörður has a really nice cinema and the festival started around it, giving it another purpose for a few days each year. It’s very important to have events where people in the industry can give each other a boost because documentary-making is a little bit like a badly paid extreme sport.” She smiles at that, but you can sense a seriousness behind her words.
Silence and killing
The organisers of Skjaldborg are always ambitious when it comes to selecting the guest of honour. “The guest of honor this year is Nils Pagh Andersen,” says Helga Rakel. “He has been editing documentaries since 1976 and has edited over 250 films, mostly documentaries. He is a great lecturer, a teacher and is publishing a book on documentaries. We will show two movies that he edited “The Look Of Silence,” and “The Act Of Killing,” which have received many prizes, and are very well known.”
When asked about the most memorable experience from the festival, Kristín Andrea does not have to think for a long time. “The beach party a few years back is legendary,” she smiles. “People still talk about it, and Helga and I watch videos from that evening every spring, to get us in the mood. There was just something amazing that happened there—it’s hard to explain. People kept partying until six in the morning and yet showed up at the cinema a few hours later.”