From Iceland — Reykjavík International Film Festival: On Thin Ice?

Reykjavík International Film Festival: On Thin Ice?

Published January 19, 2014

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The city of Reykjavík has decided not to fund RIFF this year, leaving the future of the film festival uncertain. MBL reports that Reykajvík City Council – specifically, every party except the Independence Party, who abstained – recently voted in favour of not providing funding for RIFF this year. The city gave 10 million ISK in funding to the festival last year, with additional funding coming from the Ministry of Education and Cultural Affairs and private companies. Einar Örn Benediktsson, city councilperson for the Best Party as well as the chairperson of the city’s Cultural and Tourism Committee, told reporters that since his party came to power in 2010, the committee has always followed the recommendations of the Federation of Icelandic Artists (BÍL), who recommended the cut. Gunnar Hrafnsson, the chairperson of BÍL, told reporters that their conclusion was based “solely on professional criteria”. However, when asked for the reasons for the decision, Gunnar replied that their report with their opinions on the matter was confidential. The core of the controversy may, in fact, rest upon location – in this case, Bíó Paradís. RIFF did not show any films at Bíó Paradís last year, as had been done years previous. Sources within the film industry who spoke to MBL said this was due to high operation costs for showing films at the theatre. As a result, the film group Heimili kvikmyndanna, which operates Bíó Paradís, applied last autumn for 8 million ISK in funds for a new film festival, which was approved. Acclaimed director Baltasar Kormákur has been amongst those who oppose the cut. He points out that the city of Reykjavík and RIFF have had a relationship going back ten years. “I think this is a shameful treatment of this festival, which has done nothing but spread the gospel of the city of Reykjavík,” he said in part. “I want the Best Party to show, in practice, that they are different from other political parties, admit they made a mistake and back out of this.” Baltasar pointed out that numerous guests from abroad have attended RIFF, including Quentin Tarantino, Susan Bier, Costa-Gavras and Milos Forman. “Although there are things which [the city of Reykjavík] isn’t 100% pleased with, don’t ruin this,” he concluded. “We should much rather sit down, discuss the issue, and improve our cooperation.” Note: A previous version of this story contained a misattributed quote, which has been removed.

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