Rain and wind, followed by some hail is typical spring weather in the Westfjords. That was the scenario in Patreksfjörður during Skjaldborg Festival of Icelandic Documentaries, which took place earlier this month. Thankfully, though, it’s is not an outdoor festival—it’s a n event where you spend the day watching the newest Icelandic documentaries, while chewing on salty popcorn, in the town’s hip, old fashioned cinema. To top it all off, the evenings are packed with fun, feasts and parties. Certainly too good to be true!
Even though this festival is celebrated in the northwest part of the country, it has a very southern vibe to it. With bacalhau dishes, a drum rolling parade through town, conga dancing, and a limbo contest, people were dancing into the early hours of the morning. If it wasn’t for the cold, crisp Arctic wind you could easily mistake this place for Lisbon, Portugal.
Performance art by the chefs
Of course there are some very Icelandic factors in the equation,one being the fish party that the women’s club of Patreksfjörður host every year on the Saturday afternoon of the festival. It is kind of hard to explain what exactly goes on during that event, but it’s almost like performance art from a few of the energetic local women, who cook up traditional fish stew. The stew contains cod, potatoes and cheese, and is served with rye bread and a lot of butter. The delicious food is followed by presentation of the festival’s public award of the year—Einarinn, a unique wooden trophy, crafted by the carpentry teacher of the town, Einar Skarphéðinsson.
The event creates a great atmosphere leading into the evening. A big factor in creating that atmosphere is the festival’s host, Ragnar Ísleifur Bragason, who is an essential link of the organisation. Whilst introducing Einarinn, he proved to us that he is quite the character, making the room shake with laughter with his one-liners and hilarious remarks. Saturday came to an end with a masterclass from the festival’s guest of honour, Nils Pagh Andersen; finally, there was a bring-your-own-booze party in the charming old Pakkhúsið where a DJ had guests sweating on the dancefloor well into the early hours.
Conga dancing and limbo contest
The festival’s final day was slightly warmer and packed with fun events. Guests enjoyed excellent documentaries throughout the day as well as following up the evolution of some work-in-progress documentaries, which were introduced by their respective directors. Following this, there was an amazing bacalhau plate on offer at Pakkhúsið. The lovely meal set up the evening nicely for the final documentary, ‘Kanarí,’ leading up to a memorable stand up show by Snjólaug Lúðvíksdóttir.
I’ll be back
After voting for the festival’s best movies, guests paraded in a police escort to the town social centre, where the prizes were given out. ‘Kanema’s Song’ was this year’s winner and swept both public and jury prizes. After some conga dancing and a limbo contest, the band Bjartar Sveiflur performed. Dressed all in white, they had an ’80s-style setup, and proceeded to wow the guests with their innovative covers of well known pop songs. T festival’s guests danced the night away, and just one thought was stuck on my mind: Skjaldborg Festival… I´ll be back!
Read an interview with Skjaldborg’s winner here.