From Iceland — Meet The Directors!

Meet The Directors!

Meet The Directors!

Published September 26, 2014

Reykjavík International Film Festival, September 25-October 5

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Provided by RIFF

Reykjavík International Film Festival, September 25-October 5

The Reykjavík International Film Festival ( runs through October 5, at Bíó Paradís, Háskólabíó, and elsewhere. The program encompasses features, documentaries, and short films by more than 100 directors–a handful of whom generously answered our questionnaire prior to bringing their films to Iceland.

Heike Fink – ‘Home in the Ice’

meet the directors

This documentary tells the stories of German women who, during the lean years after WWII, responded to newspaper ads soliciting women to come work on Icelandic farms.

Is there any specific aspect of the film you’re especially looking forward to sharing with an Icelandic audience?

It was very interesting seeing the influences both sides had on each other. For a long time Icelanders and Germans worked side by side. How these women were included and assimilated into the Icelandic society to me is a masterpiece of integration. None of the Germans even spoke a single word of Icelandic. I think the very personal way they learned the language in families is the best way to integrate. Learning the language of a country is the key to its people and its culture.

Katrin Ottarsdóttir – ‘Ludo’

meet the directors

This psychodrama concerning a father, mother and their eleven-year-old daughter, is the newest work from Katrin, a pioneer of Faroese cinema.

Why does this film exist?

This particular film exists because it is a totally independent and low-low-budget film, made against all odds with the help of my producing husband. And because I have at last given myself a Green Light to deal with my own personal stuff. And because I can’t help it. To make films is what I’m best at.

How did the process of making this film change you, as a filmmaker or otherwise?

Apart from making me ill with stress and high blood pressure from never knowing, right down to the last minute before the premiere in Tórshavn, if we were going to pull it through, it has made me more impatient with people who don’t appreciate me and my work. During the hellish and frustrating process of finishing the film, I used to say, “If we just can manage to finish this film I can die in peace.” Now I say, “If I can only make one film with a proper budget, not a large budget, just suitable, then I can die in peace.”

Kyle O’Donoghue – ‘The Mystery of the Arctic Cairn’


For this documentary, O’Donoghue accompanied an expedition to retrace a Norwegian explorer’s Arctic journey of 1898.

What’s the best question you’ve thus far been asked about the film (and what did you answer)?

The most-asked question has been, “How did you do the trip and also film?” followed closely by, “How cold was it?” I got frostbite on my face merely from touching the camera body to bare skin while filming. With regards to filming, my only rule was that I had to have a camera on me at all times. I skied almost 1000km with a Panasonic GH3 DSLR around my neck and I think that was the key to coming back with enough material to edit a film. If I had had to stop and unpack a camera every time there was a good shot it would have never worked.

As an “expedition filmmaker,” do you have much freedom in terms of shaping a story or “getting” certain shots?

It is very much about documenting and then finding the threads to follow as you become more comfortable with shooting in that environment. Narratively I made some story decisions early on as under the difficult circumstances it was not possible to spread the net wide and find the story in the edit.

Directing on the move was sometimes tricky as you have to look after yourself as well as the people you are filming. Stopping for any amount of time in -40 conditions means that you rapidly cool down, which can be dangerous. In order to film wide shots of the whole team I would have to ski out wide with my dog (who only wanted to be with his buddies and didn’t like being taken away), set up a tripod while keeping an eye out for bears, and then signal the team to do a walk by. So it was a process.

Malik Kleist – ‘Shadows in the Mountain’

meet the directors

A trip to a cabin turns scary for six Greenlandic teens, in this selection from RIFF’s focus on the developing Faroese and Greenlandic film industries.

Is there any specific aspect of the film you’re especially looking forward to sharing with an Icelandic audience?

Maybe the “Qivittoq” legend which we still hear about here in Greenland. We still hear stories that there are Qivittoqs out in the fjords. Of course we have made it a bit more violent so the story would be more interesting.

This movie’s been described as “the most popular Greenlandic film of all time.” Did you think about the film as making any kind of “statement” about the place it comes from?

It wasn’t about getting a statement out, it was about making the film into a statement by making it. If we can make exciting films that can beat Hollywood films [at the box office], then we have achieved our goal and can say that we Greenlanders can also make cool films.

Mike Ott – ‘Lake Los Angeles’

back to basics

The latest from American indie filmmaker Ott is the poetically rendered story of two lonely migrants—a Mexican girl and a Cuban man—drifting through the Southern California desert.

Why does this film exist?

The film comes from my obsession with the desert and more specifically the location of Lake Los Angeles itself. There’s something so haunting and beautiful about the landscape there. It’s also a perfect metaphor for the failure of the American dream since the town was initially created and sold as a resort town in the 60s, but the man-made lake quickly dried up and businesses moved out leaving basically a ghost town full of lost souls and dilapidated structures.

Nina-Maria Paschalidou – ‘Kismet’

back to basics

This documentary explores the popularity and influence of Turkish soap operas throughout the Middle East and Mediterranean.

How did the process of making this film change you, as a filmmaker or otherwise?

I have learned to never ignore something that can be considered “cheap” in some people’s dictionary. Even soap operas can be useful in society, and I don’t believe in those who look down on them, because I think that these are the very same people who secretly watch them when no one is around.

How did you go about finding women to interview?

We actually found many women whose lives have been affected by watching the shows. Especially in Egypt, we met women who don’t have Egyptian role models any more, especially after the failure of the Arab Spring. This is why Turkish women, presenting a modern type of Muslim women, who are fighting for what they want and are getting it, appear inspiring.

What these women have in common is the need for love, respect and happiness. I know it sounds cliché, but these are very common for women around the world. The fight never ends, even in parts of the world we consider to be modern. Being a woman also helped very much with gaining access. There are some things that a woman only tells a woman.

 See Riff’s website for more information.

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