From Oakland to Iceland - The Reykjavik Grapevine

From Oakland to Iceland

From Oakland to Iceland

Published September 26, 2008

Ragnhildur Magnúsdóttir, is the director of From Oakland to Iceland: A Hip-Hop Homecoming, showing at this year’s Iceland Airwaves festival. Raised in California and part of the famed Oakland Faders Crew, her brother DJ Platurn returns to his native Iceland which he left at age 7. The film documents his life as an exported Icelander and explores his three week tour DJ’ing in his homeland, reconnecting with his family, and lifting the lid on Icelandic rap and beatboxing.

The film examines the difference between Icelandic rap and the rest of the world. How do you explain the difference?

Most people don’t even know there is hip hop in Iceland; people don’t put the two together. An Icelandic rapper’s reality is European politics or drugs or domestic violence. They aren’t shooting caps in anyone’s asses

How do you describe the movie?

It’s a Fusion of hip hop and Iceland, the flavor of my brother’s two cultures- the beats he produced with the landscape. It contrasts. I can relate to it;0 although I live here now, I lived in the states for 18 years. When you’re away, you really want to get back on the front of a mountain, you want to go somewhere and be in the landscape.

How would you describe your brother’s works?
He mixed Bjork’s ‘Human behavior’ and Public Enemy. I love how eclectic he is. ‘Gangsta Rap meets 80’s funk soul’ is how to define my brother -it has to be funky.

What do you hope will happen for this movie?
I’d like to show it on a few different mediums and a couple of festivals, and a premiere in Oakland. I hope it gets out there and people see it, and if it exposes ten people to Icelandic hip hop or the great music my brothers been doing then that’s perfect. There’s not so much you can do with a movie this size, I’m aware of its short comings.

How has it been launching the film in Iceland?

It’s been hard, the film circle here is very small and closed. The Icelandic Film Centre has been very supportive, but other than that, it’s been very typically ‘Icelandic’ and negative. I’ve even had female filmmakers ‘dissing’ the project. I experienced that some people were relatively negative towards it and it made me want to connect to people abroad. Maybe it was because the local scene was so negative that I ended up talking to MTV. I was looking for other ventures: if anyone attempts to film something here without asking ten people in the scene for help, or if you do it on your own and show up with a film- you’re almost like an intruder. At Skjaldborg where we premiered the film it was pretty positive, but there was this strange vibe around, like ”who does this bitch think she is?’  You have to own it. I’m not going to participate in that negative bullshit. I had 70 women in my apartment last night, all networking and female bonding.

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