From Iceland — IceDocs 2020: The Film Festival Brings Documentary-Love Back To Akranes

IceDocs 2020: The Film Festival Brings Documentary-Love Back To Akranes

Published July 14, 2020

IceDocs 2020: The Film Festival Brings Documentary-Love Back To Akranes
Catherine Magnúsdóttir
Photo by
Provided by Ice Docs

IceDocs, one of Iceland’s hottest and most unique film festivals, is back for more this year. After celebrating its premiere last summer, the Iceland Documentary Film Festival—IceDocs for short—is back at it again. From July 15th to 19th, head to Akranes to enjoy a number of world-class documentaries, among them pictures about Banksy, a Chinese orphanage in Malawi, and a documentary about NFL star Marshawn Lynch. Along with that, you can expect some high-quality music programs, midnight movie showings, pub quizzes, a town walk, some hiking and even yoga.

Special on the roster this year? Online livestreams! Also notable will be a special program dedicated to Icelandic newcomers, a special screening of Óskar Gíslason’s ‘The Salvation Achievement at Látrabjarg,’ and performances by Matthildur, Between Mountains, Sólveig Matthildur, and Will Carruthers from legendary British band Spacemen 3 and many more.


One of the co-founders of IceDocs, Ingibjörg Halldórsdóttir, sat down with the Grapevine to discuss what we can expect this year.

Thanks for talking to us! First things first, how did IceDocs come to be?

It came to be out of a shared interest for documentaries between us, the founders, and wanting to connect with the international world of documentaries, with more creative documentaries. We wanted to create a platform for that in Iceland.

What is the ethos behind the festival?

It’s about community and also about bringing quality documentaries to a community that doesn’t have a wide access to them. There are not many places where you can see these documentaries, they’re less on steaming sites for example and we wanted to offer that on a local and international level.

As one of the founders, what does IceDocs mean to you?

It’s a complete passion project for me and the others. We work throughout the year planning it. For me, personally, it is this connection with the documentary world, with other festivals and filmmakers.

Why Akranes? What does the location offer?

It’s a fantastic town, close to Reykjavík, but it still has that small-town Iceland feel to it. That’s great for international guests in particular who get to enjoy the feel of it. Akranes also has a brilliant cinema—Bíóhöllin, one of the oldest and prettiest cinemas in the country—also from a technology perspective. Being in a town like Akranes gives us a chance to build a community. As we have our guests with us the whole time, we can constantly interact with them and establish a great network afterwards. People that have met here and connected last year for example are already working together. We also wanted to do something local—most of us also live here—so it was basically a no brainer. When you live here you basically see the potential.

“It’s about community and also about bringing quality documentaries to a community that doesn’t have a wide access to them.”

What can we expect the festival to look like this year?

I think it’s going to be super fun. We’ll have acts throughout the day, it’s going to be more of a mix of festival, unlike last year when focus was more exclusively on film. We’ll have a town walk in Akranes, a hike, yoga. Akranes is still fairly small and we don’t want anyone to feel stuck here so we have a bunch of different activities planned. We want people to stay with us for more than a day.

How many attendants do you expect in this current climate?

I’m not exactly sure, we’re walking into this kind of blindly. We relied heavily on international guests last year but it’s difficult this year to estimate due to the situation. We wanted to use this year to reach out to the audience, see what works, what doesn’t. But now I guess we’ll see.


On that note, how will the current pandemic affect the event? Are there any contingency plans or alternatives planned?

We really wanted to have a big party and a dance, which now of course won’t be possible. We had a layout in October and November that we want to go forward with although we’ll have to change it around a bit of course. In our regular plans we’d have evening gatherings after the final screening in the cinema but due to the gathering restrictions we will start the programs and screenings earlier to be able to finish them in time. But it’s still important to us to do something together in the evenings and we are lucky enough that the cinema isn’t too large.

With the global effect internationally, we ran into some issues initially. Lots of distributers held films back, lots of films were unavailable. Thankfully we managed to make some deals with distributers to have the films online where people can also see them for a timespan of three weeks if they missed them. We also do have some livestreams planned. It’s important to us to let people see us and grant them as much access as possible. A lot of the events are more or less free although you can get even more access depending on the ticket-pass you buy of course.

“Being in a town like Akranes gives us a chance to build a community.”

We’re encouraging people to follow state guidelines. We mainly want to be very careful. We haven’t really slowed down in our preparations for the festival but we of course don’t want a bad reputation through a number of infections at our festival. We’ll also have announcements in the cinemas and are kind of counting on not being the biggest event in the world. We encourage people to be careful and trust individuals to do what is right.

Lastly, what are your hopes for this year?

I hope that people will come, that people enjoy the festival, that we reach people so that when things go back to normal, we’ll have a bigger reach. I hope that we’ll have a good time and that our audience will get a new glimpse of the world around us. That’s what a lot of the films are about.


IceDocs will be from July 15th to 19th in Akranes. Tickets range from 3,500 to 13,500 ISK depending on package. That said, there will be some free screenings. Check out their website here. You can also check out previous Grapevine coverage on IceDocs here.

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