Icelandic film Alma, written and directed by Kristín Jóhannesdóttir, is Iceland’s nominee for the 2021 Nordic Council Film Prize. The award is accompanied by a prize of DKK 300,000 [ISK 5.9 million; $47,471] to be split equally among the screenwriter, director, and producer, and is given annually to a film from one of the five Nordic nations. The winner will be announced in an awards ceremony in Copenhagen on November 2.
Per the Icelandic Film Centre, Alma is “the story of a young woman who is serving time in a psych ward for murdering her boyfriend, a crime she can’t remember. But when she discovers [he] is still alive, she decides to escape and kill him after all.”
Rather than repeating typical tropes, however, the Icelandic selection committee noted that Alma allows its protagonist space for growth and healing. As they wrote in their nomination, “What starts out as a noirish revenge fable becomes a beautiful love story that centers around the process through which a victim of abuse finds her way through trauma and grief to finally rediscover her roots and her distinctive voice.”
“Employing biting humor as well as striking visual imagery, Alma deftly combines an intense poetic vision and a socially critical feminist angle.”
Alma is Kristín Jóhannesdóttir’s third feature (Rainbow’s End and As in Heaven) and was produced by Gudrún Edda Thórhannesdóttir, Fridrik Thór Fridriksson, and Egil Ødegård. It stars Snæfrídur Ingvarsdóttir, Kristbjörg Kjeld, Emmanuelle Riva, and Hilmir Snær Gudnason.
Iceland has won the Nordic Council Film Prize three times since it started being awarded in 2002. Director Benedikt Erlingsson has won twice, for Of Horses and Men in 2014 and Woman at War in 2018, and Dagur Kári won for Virgin Mountain in 2015.
Bíó Paradís will be showing all of this year’s nominated films during its Nordic Film Festival, which will run from September 23 – 26. All of the films will be shown with English subtitles.