The second Northern Wave Film Festival was launched flamboyantly last Friday with champagne, caviar and speeches; the whole nine yards. Or so I’ve heard. The truth is that while the last attendants of the opening ceremony were being dragged up to their hotel rooms by twitchy better halves, several-too-many drinks in, I was stuck mid-blizzard in the wastelands near Grundarfjörður.
As I squinted my eyes behind the wheel, trying to see further than the five metres allotted by the blizzard, several gigantic trucks rushed by and almost thrust us off the road. So although we missed the champagne we obtained a genuine buzz of our own: narrowly escaping death on an Icelandic highway.
Eventually we arrived in the sleepy hollow and after settling in at the cosy and small hotel we hit the sleazy, but homey, diner we’d dreamed of on our travels along the peninsula. And it sure looked like the whole town was there. Once we’d gotten a few beers into our system we woke up, sort of. And quite a way to wake up it was, for DLX ATX had just begun their set at the bar. Describing them as dynamic would be an understatement, really. Once they had basically ejaculated all over the crowd, dance trio Sykur appeared to swab the residue off the stage. Sykur aroused the local ladies intensely—they now have loyal pack of Grundarfjörður groupies following their every move on MySpace.
Experimental, Animated and Weird
Surely ridding oneself of a hearty hangover via freezing shower is a good idea. However, the managers of our Grundarfjörður hotel should bear in mind that most people prefer their cold showers optional, not mandatory. When the shivers stopped we headed off to the stables right outside the town where the Weird Girls, an Icelandic all-female art group, had set up their camp. We didn’t stop for long, but the whole instalment seemed colourful and energetic while a small crew of photographers and cinematographers captured the flock on film as they skipped around splashing homemade paint over their bizarre, one-eyed costumes.
We finally arrived at the screening centre as the animations were to begin. They were as many as they were different, all foreign. All in all it was a fulfilling run of amusing as well as intriguing shorts. Next in line were the experimental shorts, but the most conspicuous one was by a German-American woman who amusingly mocked Guantanamo Bay and other facilities of the sort with a looping clip. Her thorough explanations of her intent and ideas after the show felt patronizing, however.
90s frenzy and substance abuse
That Saturday night the main fête was thrown in the screening hall, but when we entered it seemed as the 1500 ISK entry fee had thwarted some of the festival’s attendants from appearing. The hall was half-empty. Anonymous blasted gorilla techno that was defiantly enjoyed by the few on the dance-floor, but the rest seemed fulfilled by observing the Weird Girls, still bizarrely uniformed, moving and dancing in mysterious ways on the floor. As the night passed, the horde grew and at the peak you could even go as far as passing it off as crowded. This was most likely due to the super-spunky 90’s hits that filled the room courtesy of DJs Kitty von Sometime and Mokki. When the lights were lit people seemed a bit drowsy and moseyed home to prepare for the main screening the day after. We found out when we got back that our next-door neighbour that seemed intent on keeping us awake by shouting “I love you” and “I’m coming” in a incredibly loud manner, repeatedly. Finally, though, she came. And we fell asleep.
The Icelandic shorts screened at the festival were of incredibly good quality and made you realise that this is somewhat of an underestimated field here in Iceland. Those I cherished most were The Nail by Benedikt Erlingsson, a hysteric telling of the Icelandic PM falling on a nail causing him to act barbaric (he even gives raping a fellow minister a whirl), as well as Gunnur Þórhalls depiction of a bulimic wonder-family. The crème de la crème, though, was Rúnar Rúnarsson’s “Little Birds”, which told a tragicomic story of puppy love in a rural village, adding a dash of substance and physical abuse. So it was no wonder that Rúnarsson received the first prize. The festival certainly gives some much needed attention to the under-represented side of Icelandic cinema, and hopefully we’ll be able to frequent the festival in coming years.