The 8th Reykjavík International Film Festival (RIFF) took place in Iceland from the 22nd September to the 2nd October, 2011. Some 100 feature films were screened, in addition to a broad selection of shorts from established and emerging directors.
'New Visions', RIFF's main competitive category, comprised 12 films by first or second-time feature directors. Just over half of the films in the category were European, while the rest were from the USA, Russia, Palestine, Argentina and Brazil. A jury composed of actor Ulrich Thomsen, director Tudor Giurgiu and critic Irene Bignardi awarded the Golden Puffin Discovery Award to Angelina Nikonova's dystopian Twilight Portrait (Portret v sumer kakh, Russia, 2011). The film follows a social worker who becomes a victim of society's corruption and cruelty. Rather than retreating to her government office and comfortable bourgeois life, she undertakes a radical experiment among the lower classes.
'New Visions' was also judged by a FIPRESCI jury who awarded their prize to Icelandic feature Volcano (Eldfjall, 2011). In this film, director Rúnar Rúnarsson highlights marital devotion and the challenges of old age. The film's sensitive treatment of family life also earned it an award from the Church of Iceland.
In addition to its signature Puffin awards, RIFF gives a 'Golden Egg' for encouragement to an early-career director taking part in the festival's Talent Lab. This year's Golden Egg went to Sandra Nedeleff for her short film 'Goodbye Daddy' ('Auf Wiedersehen Papa', 2010).
RIFF has a special relationship with Romanian cinema, as the first Golden Puffin went to Cristi Puiu for The Death of Mr. Lazarescu (Moartea domnului Lazarescu, 2005). RIFF 2011 showcased the country's latest productions with a 'Romania in Focus' section. There was also a section devoted to 'Emerging Master' Adrian Sitaru, best known for his 2007 film Hooked (Pescuit sportiv).
In connection with RIFF's extensive documentary section, the festival hosted James Marsh, director of the Oscar-winning documentary Man on Wire (2008), andenvironmentalist and broadcaster David Suzuki, focus of Sturla Gunnarsson's documentary Force of Nature: The David Suzuki Movie (2010). Other illustrious guests at this year's festival included directors Lone Scherfig and Béla Tarr. In a special ceremony at the residence of Icelandic president Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, RIFF presented Béla Tarr with a Lifetime Achievement Award.
Reykjavík International Film Festival: www.riff.is