26th Reykjavik International Film Festival
Iceland, September 25 - October 5 2008
Not far from the always active volcanoes, among which is Hekla — whose last eruption goes back to February 26th 2000 —, the constant explosion of 1001 geysers and a lunar nature, the cinema was honored during the 11 days of the Reykjavik International Film festival.
A selection of quality films from 27 different countries was shown in different categories. In the “New Visions” category the most promising young directors of the world competed for the “Golden Puffin” award for their first or second full-length films. The “New Visions” category is not just a chance to see the beginning of a career for new directors, but it also permits to see how they perceive the world today. The best example was Home by Ursula Meier, who pointed her finger towards one of the major environmental dangers: noise.
In regards to the environment, this year the Reykjavik International Film festival dedicated a new section to environmental issues. This new section along with Sound on Sight, about the interaction of films and music, brought the section categories present in the festival to a total of eight. There were of course many Nordic premieres, European premieres and even World premieres. Some of those films, like those in the “Open Seas” category, have already made a name for themselves at film festivals around the world. Terribly Happy (Frygtelig lykkelig) by Henrik Ruben Genz, the Danish filmmaker, was one of them (it won the “Crystal Ball” at the Karlovy Vary film festival last summer).
On the other hand, the festival permitted to festival goers and guests to encounter very prominent filmmakers and artists who visited the Reykjavik International Film festival this year. They could follow Costa-Gavras, one of the most politically and engaged filmmaker’s master class; see Iranian video-artist Shirin Neshat’s works; Danish actress and director Paprika Steen; Finnish director Arto Halonen; and Armenian actress Arsinée Khanjian …
Last but not least, a trip inside Iceland, the land of extremes and contrasts close to the Arctic Circle, gives a fabulous lesson of geology. Volcanoes, glaciers, fields of lava, zones geothermic and black sand beaches compose a wild landscapes which, according to time and lighting, evoke a magic world. The volcanoes of Iceland, which were formerly regarded as the entrance to hell, give nevertheless the feeling of a return to the birth of the earth after the Big Bang. A country inhabited by hospitable people. (Shahla Nahid)