Iceland is famous for its otherworldly landscapes, the black soil, lava fields and cascades seen in films as diverse as Children of Nature, The Tree of Life and The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. Yet the country's capital city, while characterized by austere, somber architecture, possesses an ever-shifting light, subject to maritime climate, that is also immensely cinematic. You notice this every time you exit a cinema during the Reykjavík International Film Festival—how can you not, since the weather has likely changed dramatically since you entered the cinema?
RIFF has been around twelve years now and its programming seems to be in very good health. Its "New Visions" program of films from first-time feature directors, which was the program from which our jury was to select a prize-winner, was unusually strong and diverse in content, style and the geographies and cultures represented.
This year’s festival featured a special focus on Danish cinema. Lifetime achievement awards were given to directors Margarethe von Trotta and David Cronenberg, both of whom gave masterclasses open to the public and participated in several extensive onstage interviews following screenings of their films. There were also memorial screenings of selected films from Sólveig Anspach, who died this past summer.
The members of this year's Discovery of the Year jury were producer Agnes Johansen (Iceland), Berlinale head of sponsorship Dagmar Forelle (Germany), European FF and Tribeca artistic director Freferic Boyer (France), Icelandic Film Centre director Laufey Guójonsnsdóttir (Iceland) and Paola Corvino, president of the Union of Italian Film Exporters (Italy). Their Golden Puffin Award was given to the Iranian film Wednesday, May 9 (Chaharshanbeh, 19 Ordibehesht), directed by Vahid Jalilvand. (José Antonio Teodoro)
Reykjavík International Film Festival: www.riff.is