Back in the dark ages before the advent of Bíó Paradís, one of the few opportunities Reykvikians had to see non-Hollywood films on the big screen was during the French film festival. While things are not quite so bad for the cinephile these days, the festival remains a welcome diversion in the post-Christmas era. As per usual, ten films are on offer, nine French and one French-Canadian. The opening film is Le Sens De La Féte(Such is Life), and this, along with Michael Haneke’s Happy End are shown with Icelandic subtitles, whereas with everything else you will have to resort to English. Unless, of course, you understand the French. Of particular interest to Nordicphiles is Dans La Fóret (Into the Forest), a thriller about a father who takes his boys to Sweden and for whatever reason refuses to leave. Supernatural causes are suspected.
The French Film festival will have started by the time you read this, but there are still a couple of days left. The most popular films tend to run for longer and everything takes place in Háskólabíó.
Meanwhile, much like that time in 1870 when German and French sailors had a fistfight downtown and the Reykjavik police hid in terror in fishbarrels (actually not really like that at all), the Germans will be competing with the French in RVK City with their own film days. While having a slightly shorter history behind it, this is neverthelessbeing held for the 9th time in BíóParadís and runs from February 2nd to 11th.
The flagship film is Fatih Akins’In the Fade and stars Diane Kruger in a Cannes-winning role as a woman seeking revenge after her family is killed in a neo-Nazi terror attack.
Of particular interestalso is The Young Karl Marx, which is kind of an origin story about the Das Kapital author’s first meeting with Engels. It’s about time someone made a movie about those guys. There will also be a party screening (they have a break for beer runs) of last year’s opening comedy Toni Erdmann. For local flavour there is Hörður, about a young Muslim girl and an Icelandic horse (they can never go back home once they leave, those Icelandic horses), among other treats. Everything is shown with English subs.
Then, come March, the hefty Stockfish Festival arrives. Apart from the usual slew of movies from near and afar and a number of international guests, there will also be lectures and workshops. One of them will be a meeting point for Nordic women in filmmaking.
Icelandic female directors have already had a strong showing this year with Ása Hjörleifsdóttir’s excellent debut The Swan. And everybody knows that Iceland is a popular location for international filmmakers, popping up in everything from Game of Thrones to Star Wars. But our closest neighbours, the Faroe Islands and Greenland, have been getting in on the action. A panel of experts from all three West-Nordic countries will discuss their presence and future possibilities in the movies. There will also be the “Sprettfiskur” short film festival and the annual Midpoint filmmaking workshop, hosted by Pavel Jech of Sundance fame. All events are open to the public but one has to sign up specifically for Pavel.
All told, there should be plenty going on in the capital’s cinemas to make up for the B-Vitamin deficiency of darkest winter, until the spring equinox rolls around and we can all start looking forward to the arrival of summer. Which in Iceland is more of a probability than a given.