Images from the Edge: Classic and Contemporary Icelandic Cinema Apr 19 – Apr 27

Images from the Edge: Classic and Contemporary Icelandic Cinema
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  • $13 General Public
  • $9 Students & Seniors
  • $8 Members
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See 4 Films for the Price of 3!

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Although there had been filmmaking in Iceland since the silent era—our series includes the country’s first two sound features—Icelandic cinema was really “born” in 1978, with the creation of the Icelandic Film Fund. Two years later, Ágúst Guðmundsson’s Land and Sons was released with great success nationally and internationally, making the rounds of the festival circuit. Icelandic film was finally on the cinematic map.

Despite the ever-real presence of a cinematic globalization (read: Hollywood) that threatens to engulf especially the cinemas of small nations, Iceland has more than held its own in the face of considerable overseas competition. Average feature production in the past decade has been 7-8 films per year, for a population of about 320,000; as in other parts of Europe, co-production agreements are often essential. A number of recent Icelandic films—Jar City, Reykjavik Rotterdam (recently remade here as Contraband)—have been enormous hits at home and have opened new markets for Icelandic films across Europe.

The “edge” in the title of our series refers not only the borders of the continental shelves of Europe and North America that jut against each across Iceland (a rather spectacular sight), but also the quality of many of the films included here. Icelandic landscapes are beautiful, but it’s a harsh beauty, and that harshness can be felt in stories that often offer their characters the starkest of choices. This is a world in which almost everything seems pushed to the limit, and what is so remarkable is how accepting these characters are of this daily reality.   

This series has been organized by the Film Society of Lincoln Center and the Icelandic Film Centre. Special thanks to the Centre’s director, Laufey Guðjónsdóttir, for her support, encouragement and hospitality. Series programmed by Richard Peña.

Click here to download a PDF of the series program.

Past Films

Angels of the Universe

Angels of the Universe

Friðrik Thór Friðriksson | 2000 | 100m mins

In person: Friðrik Thór Friðriksson!

Friðriksson’s finest film strikes a delicate balance between the pain, suffering and even horror of mental illness in its portrait of a diagnosed schizophrenic adjusting to life in a psychiatric hospital.

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Between Mountain and Shore

Between Mountain and Shore

Loftur Guðmundsson | 1949 | 91 mins

The first Icelandic sound feature is this charming tale of star-crossed lovers shot against the stunning backgrounds of central Iceland. Starring Gunnar Eyjólfsson, later one of the country’s most popular actors.

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The Circle

The Circle

Friðrik Thór Friðriksson | 1985 | 81 mins

Continuous free screenings in the Frieda & Roy Furman Gallery, April 18 – 26!

A bold experiment in the fields of physics, mathematics and geography but also in film directing, cinematography and sound. 

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Country Wedding

Country Wedding

Valdís Óskarsdóttir | 2008 | 99 mins

In person: Valdís Óskarsdóttir!

An uproarious comedy of a wedding gone spectacularly haywire, acclaimed editor Óskarsdóttir’s semi-improvised debut feature captures the chaos that ensues when a claustrophobic groom forces his wedding party to detour en route to a small rural church.

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Dreamland

Dreamland

Þorfinnur Guðnason | Andri Snær Magnason | 2009 | 89 mins

In person: Andri Snær Magnason!

An insightful documentary about the causes and consequences of short-sighted economic planning, focusing on the Icelandic government’s efforts to woo the Alcoa Aluminum Corporation by building the largest dam in all of Europe.

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Either Way

Either Way

Hafsteinn Gunnar Sigurðsson | 2011 | 85 mins

In person: Hafsteinn Gunnar Sigurðsson!

A terrifically endearing, very wry comedy about the growing bond between two road workers on a distant highway: a thirty-something slacker and his girlfriend’s sex-obsessed younger brother. 

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The Girl Gogo

The Girl Gogo

Erik Balling | 1962 | 90 mins

An enormously popular--and controversial--social drama about a rural farmer turned taxi driver and the beautiful, mysterious young woman he meets on his nightly rounds. 

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Ingaló

Ingaló

Ásdís Thoroddsen | 1992 | 96 mins

In person: Ásdís Thoroddsen!

Sólveig Arnarsdóttir gives an award-winning performance as a young woman working as a cook on commercial fishing boat in this unusual and compelling women’s perspective on the male-dominated fishing sub-culture.

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Jar City

Jar City

Baltasar Kormákur | 2006 | 93 mins

Director Baltasar Kormákur in person at April 20 screening!

A blockbuster in its native Iceland, this compelling, sinewy police procedural follows a detective untangling a thick web of corruption as he hunts for a killer. 

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Land and Sons

Land and Sons

Ágúst Guðmundsson | 1980 | 93 mins

In person: Ágúst Guðmundsson!

The movie that put Icelandic cinema on the map. A powerful adaptation of Indriði G. Þorsteinsson’s novel about a family of sheep farmers struggling to survive in the face of harsh conditions.

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The Last Farm in the Valley

The Last Farm in the Valley

Ævar Kvaran | 1950 | 93 mins

Panel discussion following April 19 screening featuring filmmakers Hafsteinn Sigurdsson, Baltasar Kormákur and Ásdís Thoroddsen and historian Björn Nordfjord.

A farmer defends his farm against meancing trolls (with some help from a friendly dwarf and a beautiful fairy queen) in this wonderfully light-hearted tale of the supernatural--one of the best-loved of all Icelandic films. Panel discussion following April 19 screening featuring filmmakers Hafsteinn Sigurdsson and Baltasar Kormákur, actress Ásdís Thoroddsen and historian Björn Nordfjord!

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Noi the Albino

Noi the Albino

Dagur Kári | 2003 | 82 mins

In person: Dagur Kári!

Flavored with strains of David Lynch and Jim Jarmusch, this deadpan coming-of-age story centers around a 17-year-old albino who dreams of escaping from a remote fjord to a tropical Polynesian isle... with the comely local gas station attendant in tow. 

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Rainbow’s End

Rainbow’s End

Kristín Jóhannesdóttir | 1983 | 112 mins

Director Kristín Jóhannesdóttir in person at Apr. 20 screening!

Drawing on motifs from Icelandic sagas and eddas, Jóhannesdóttir’s stunning debut feature uses the story of an inter-generational family conflict as the framework for a lyrical reflection on topics ranging from magic to individualism to Iceland’s special place in the world. 

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Reykjavík Rotterdam

Reykjavík Rotterdam

Óskar Jónasson | 2008 | 88 mins

Star Baltasar Kormákur in person!

The basis for the recent Mark Wahlberg hit Contraband, this international sensation seamlessly combines an affecting family drama with a razor’s edge crime thriller, as a recent parolee is drawn back into the criminal underworld to save his brother-in-law.

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Rock in Reykjavik

Rock in Reykjavik

Friðrik Thór Friðriksson | 1982 | 83 mins

In person: Friðrik Thór Friðriksson and Thorgeir Guðmundsson!

A seminal documentary portrait of 1980s Icelandic music, including live performances from Tappi Tíkarrass, Q4U and many more. Preceded by B.S.I. (Þorgeir Guðmundsson, 2010, 18m).

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Undercurrent

Undercurrent

Árni Ásgeirsson | 2010 | 95 mins

Director Árni Ásgeirsson in person at Apr. 25 screening!

A twisty, richly layered psychological drama about a woman who takes a job on a fishing vessel, only to discover unsettling facts about the fate of the person she’s replaced on board.

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Volcano

Volcano

Rúnar Rúnarsson | 2011 | 95 mins

A distant man newly retired from his job as a janitor gradually comes out of his emotional shell while caring for his stroke-afflicted wife in this tender, beautifully acted look at the aging process.

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When the Raven Flies

When the Raven Flies

Hrafn Gunnlaugsson | 1984 | 110 mins

A corrective to Hollywood’s Viking movies of yesteryear, director Gunnlaugsson’s debut feature adds a meticulously researched and recreated social context tot he story of a vengeful Irishman working his way into the good graces of a Viking tribe.

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White Whales

White Whales

Friðrik Thór Friðriksson | 1987 | 73 mins

In person: Friðrik Thór Friðriksson!

Oscar-nominee Friðriksson’s debut fiction feature is the unexpectedly poignant tale of two experienced whalers taking a break in Reykjavík after months out at sea.

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