Icelandic Government Unveils First Comprehensive Film Industry Policy Skip to content
Golli. Filming of the 2019 Áramótaskaup, an annual comedy revue program screened on New Year's Eve in Iceland
Photo: Golli. Filming of the 2019 Áramótaskaup, an annual comedy revue program screened on New Year’s Eve in Iceland.

Icelandic Government Unveils First Comprehensive Film Industry Policy

Iceland’s Ministry of Culture has launched the government’s first comprehensive policy for the film industry. Titled “Film Policy Until 2030 – An art form at a Crossroads,” the initiative is part of a policy to diversify the Icelandic economy with an emphasis on creative industries. Iceland is one of few countries where film production has continued throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Icelandic filmmaking has developed quickly and is of the highest quality,” stated Minister of Education and Culture Lilja Alfreðsdóttir according to a press release from the Culture Ministry. “As an art form, filmmaking is very accessible to the public and is especially important in the effort to strengthen and preserve the language, reflect the present, and make history and cultural heritage understood.” Filmmaking is a forward-looking international industry, says the press release, but also one that is sustainable. “It creates value for the Treasury, creates nearly 4,000 direct and indirect jobs, attracts foreign investment, and draws increasingly more respect internationally.”

Iceland is one of few countries where film production has been able to continue throughout the pandemic, due to authorities’ success in containing the virus as well as the development of protocols to make film sets safe. In North Iceland, film orchestra SinfoniaNord has continued to record film scores live, working remotely with clients around the world.

Icelandic Streaming Service to Be Established

The film policy has four main aims. They are to create a rich film culture, which strengthens the nation’s identity and strengthens the Icelandic language; offer more diverse and ambitious film education; strengthen the industry’s competitive position; and support Iceland in becoming a well-known international brand in filmmaking.

The aims will be achieved through ten local and international actions, including increased government funding to the industry, closer collaboration between industry figures and government, and establishing a university-level program in filmmaking (The Icelandic Film School currently offers diploma programs). Other actions include measures to improve working conditions in the industry through screenwriting grants and other support, as well as marketing Iceland abroad as a filming destination. The policy also aims to make Icelandic film more accessible to the public, for example by setting up an Icelandic streaming service to disseminate locally-produced film.

Lilja Ósk Snorradóttir, chairman of the Association of Icelandic Film Producers (SÍK), told Fréttablaðið reporters that the policy marks a new beginning for Icelandic filmmaking. “We celebrate this milestone. This is the government’s first comprehensive policy in the field of film and it will strengthen both Icelandic culture and language at the same time as it strengthens the economy.”

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