Silja Hauksdóttir is a 31-year old filmmaker from Reykjavík. She graduated with a B.A. degree in philosophy from the University of Iceland in 1999, and directed her first film in 2004, although she has been working in the film industry since the late nineties.
“I guess I first started to be interested in filmmaking through acting in films,” Silja explains when I ask her how she went from studying philosophy to making movies. “I was dabbling in acting with theatre groups when I was in secondary school and through that I started to act in films. I realised that I wanted to work in this industry, but I knew did not want to be an actor.”
After finishing her philosophy degree, Silja started working in television and doing freelance work for various production companies, before deciding to study directing at the FAMU academy in Prague. In 2000, Silja and her friends Birna Anna Björnsdóttir and Oddný Sturludóttir, wrote the bestselling novel Dís, about a 23-year old girl who fears she is too average, the adaptation of the book later became her directorial debut. “I wrote the novel with my friends, and we then turned into a screenplay and as soon as I finished the film school, the screenplay was turned into a movie. That’s when I really started,” She explains.
The film was well received, and despite having little or no experience in directing, Silja maintains that it was a positive experience “Ignorance is bliss, you know. Of course I had the advantage of knowing the character of Dís extremely well, I had been working with this story and its characters for years, the book was published in 2000 and the movie was made in 2004 and I was working with the story more or less for all that time.” After finishing Dís, her next project was a documentary, The Choir, which follows a lively women’s choir on tour through Italy. Lately she has directed several ‘docucommercials’ in Africa on behalf UNICEF as well as directing commercials for SagaFilm and working as a writer for the award winning TV-sitcom Stelpurnar (The Girls). Silja is currently working on a screenplay for a feature length film, Chance of Rain, which she developed in 2005 when she joined the Binger Film Lab in Amsterdam to study screenwriting. She prefers not to reveal much about the project, saying only that it will be a simple Reykjavík story about relationship and people learning how to be grown ups. Our talk turns to the low number of women in her field. “Filmmaking is probably the most expensive form of art you can work with. You need to have access to money and think that is the best explanation. With money comes power, and those two things are the worst enemies of women. Now there is your headline.”