From Iceland — RIFF & Chill: The Reykjavík International Film Festival Goes Digital - Hybrid

RIFF & Chill: The Reykjavík International Film Festival Goes Digital – Hybrid

RIFF & Chill: The Reykjavík International Film Festival Goes Digital – Hybrid

Published September 16, 2020

Hannah Jane Cohen
Photo by
Art Bicnick

Make sure your connection is strong and electricity stays running because the Reykjavík International Film Festival is back and this time can be enjoyed from the comfort of your new IKEA sofa. Yes, for its 2020 iteration, the annual cinematic lollapalooza is going online, meaning tickets grant you access to special screenings that can be viewed from any wifi connection in Iceland.

Viking positive

“When we got the news that we were back to [gathering] restrictions, we thought, ok, we can’t fight this, but we’re Vikings so we will just pull up our sleeves and make the best of it!” said RIFF team member María Ólafsdóttir, smiling. The group, she emphasises, firmly decided not to frame the changes to their formatting as “Due to COVID.”

“No, we said, ok, this time we are online. We were very positive about it,” she laughs. “Not COVID-positive, of course. Just positive.”

“Now we can bring films to people in old folks homes, people at sea and those who are maybe too worried to go out right now.”

The RIFF organisers, María relays, saw this as an opportunity to spread their reach in Iceland and offer the joys of international film to those outside of Reykjavík. “Now we can bring films to people in old folks homes, people at sea and those who are maybe too worried to go out right now,” she says. “We will still have some in-person screenings according to the current rules at Bíó Paradís and the Nordic House, but having it online means everyone can still have entertainment.”

Buses & kilometres

This year’s programme is just as diverse as it always is, featuring documentaries, dramas, comedies, horror flicks and short films from all over the globe.

María particularly recommends Ameen Nayfeh’s ‘200 Meters.’ The movie tells the story of a Palestinian man living in the West Bank whose son is in a hospital just over the wall. While they are only 200 metres apart, getting to him becomes a 200 kilometre journey.

“Our selection is always varied,” María says, referencing a host of other films about everything from a Michelin chef in Taiwan to a portrait of Alvar Aalto. “We aim for something that’s enjoyable to watch, something surprising and something that’s maybe controversial. We have many films about people that live on the edge of society, like refugees and more.”

“We aim for something that’s enjoyable to watch, something surprising and something that’s maybe controversial.”

All the classic RIFF events will be happening, albeit altered to fit the new format. So you can expect to catch a half in-person, half online Industry Days, digital Q&As and more.

As we’ve come to expect, RIFF is always pushing the bar and this year is no different. New on the roster this year is a cinema bus, which will prowl the countryside showcasing RIFF’s offerings to those outside of the capital. “During the day, we will screen films for children in the bus or in nearby schools,” María explains. “In the evenings, it will show a film from the programme — project it on a wall somewhere so it can be a drive-in screening.” The bus will begin its ride on September 17th — one week before the start of the festival.

The ideal RIFF night

But how does one best enjoy an online RIFF flick? Luckily, María sets the scene for us.

“A RIFF movie night is a good opportunity to come together with your inner circle or family.
Maybe you could even make a movie quiz,” she says. “Just have a cosy night with a blanket, a cup of tea, lots of chocolate and perhaps a little red wine!”

Reykjavík International Film Festival will be from September 24th to October 4th. Go to riff.is for information on tickets and times.

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