Warm Cannes Reception for ‘When the Light Breaks’

A still from When the Light Breaks, a film by Rúnar Rúnarsson

Director Rúnar Rúnarsson’s latest film Ljósbrot, or When the Light Breaks, received a standing ovation and favourable reviews after its premiere at the Cannes Film Festival Wednesday. Actress Elín Hall told Rás 2 radio that her time at the festival had been like a dream.

“I can’t say that I’m shocked by the reception, because everything Rúnar makes is incredible,” she said. “But I still didn’t expect this.”

A spring day story

The film premiered in the Un Certain Regard category of the festival. It tells the story of Una, a young art student, during an eventful spring day in her life. Elín stars alongside Katla Njálsdóttir, Mikael Kaaber, Gunnar Hrafn Kristjánsson, Baldur Einarsson, and Ágúst Wium.

“It’s about all kinds of secrets and emotions,” Elín said. “I don’t want to say too much, but this film is very “less is more”, in how it’s beautiful visually. It’s incredibly well written, in my opinion, and the whole team behind it is great.”

Red carpet game

Elín walked the red carpet in a Chanel dress and said that fifteen people had to agree to what clothes and jewellery she wore. “It’s like a game,” she said. “I had to go to fittings and fly to London to try on dresses. It was a much bigger deal than anything I’ve done, borrowing these things.”

Ljósbrot to Open Cannes Film Festival Category

Cannes Film Festival

Ljósbrot, the forthcoming film from director Rúnar Rúnarsson, will be the opening film of the Un Certain Regard category at the Cannes Film Festival this year.

This will be the sixth festival in a row that an Icelandic film is part of official selection at Cannes, Klapptré reports.

Festival success

Ljósbrot is Rúnar’s fourth feature film. His first feature, Eldfjall (Volcano), was released in 2011 and was presented in the Director’s Fortnight category at Cannes. The film received 17 international awards at film festivals. His second feature, Þrestir (Sparrows), came out in 2015 and won the main prize at the San Sebastian Film Festival. His third feature from 2019, Bergmál (Echo), was selected for the Cannes Atelier screenwriting workshop and was premiered at the Locarno Film Festival. Rúnar has also had success with short films.

Ljósbrot takes place on a lovely spring day and follows Una, whose live changes in a moment, kicking off an emotional rollercoaster ride. It stars Elín Hall, Mikael Kaaber, Katla Njálsdóttir, Gunnar Hrafn Kristjánsson, Ágúst Wigum and Baldur Einarsson. Rúnar directs, writes the screenplay, and produces along with Heather Millard.

Iceland at Cannes

Several Icelandic films have been selected for the Cannes Film Festival before, both feature films and shorts, and for the festival’s independent sections, such as Director’s Fortnight and Critic’s Week.

1954: Hálendi Íslands / Magnús Jóhannsson (In Competition)
1984: Atómstöðin / Þorsteinn Jónsson (Director’s Fortnight)
1992: Ingaló / Ásdís Thoroddsen (Critics’ Week)
1992: Ævintýri á okkar tímum / Inga Lísa Middleton (Short Films)
1993: Sódóma Reykjavík / Óskar Jónasson (Un Certain Regard)
2003: Stormviðri / Sólveig Anspach (Un Certain Regard)
2005: Voksne mennesker / Dagur Kári (Un Certain Regard)
2008: Smáfuglar / Rúnar Rúnarsson (Short Films)
2009: Anna / Rúnar Rúnarsson (Director’s Fortnight)
2011: Eldfjall / Rúnar Rúnarsson (Director’s Fortnight)
2013: Hvalfjörður / Guðmundur Arnar Guðmundsson (Short Films)
2015: Hrútar / Grímur Hákonarson (Un Certain Regard)
2016: Sundáhrifin / Sólveig Anspach (Director’s Fortnight)
2018: Kona fer í stríð / Benedikt Erlingsson (Critics’ Week)
2019: Hvítur, hvítur dagur / Hlynur Pálmason (Critics’ Week)
2021: Dýrið / Valdimar Jóhannsson (Un Certain Regard)
2022: Volaða land / Hlynur Pálmason (Un Certain Regard)
2023: Fár / Gunnur Martinsdóttir Schlüter (Short Films)
2024: Ljósbrot / Rúnar Rúnarsson (Director’s Fortnight)

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Hlynur Pálmason’s Godland to Compete in Un Certain Regard at Cannes

Director and screenwriter Hlynur Pálmason’s latest film Godland will be shown at the Cannes Film Festival as part of the Un Certain Regard competition, ScreenDaily reports. This will not be Hlynur’s first time at the prestigious film festival; in 2019 his film A White, White Day screened during Critics’ Week and earned actor Ingvar Sigurðsson the rising star award.

Set in the 19th century, Godland tells the story of a young Danish priest (Elliott Crosset Hove) who “travels to a remote part of Iceland to build a church and photograph its people. But the deeper he goes into the unforgiving landscape, the more he strays from his purpose, his mission and morality.” It is a co-production between Denmark’s Snowglobe film production company and Iceland’s Join Motion Picture.

See Also: Icelandic Film “Lamb” Double-Nominated in Cannes

Cannes’ Un Certain Regard competition, which was “refocused” last year on “the discovery of emerging filmmakers,” has been part of Cannes since 1978. In addition to the main prize, which includes a €30,000 purse, this competition also awards the Ensemble Prize, Prize of Courage, Prize of Originality, and a Special Mention. Last year, the Icelandic film Lamb, directed by Valdimar Jóhannsson, written by Sjón, and starring Noomi Rapace, won the competition’s Prize of Originality. In this year’s competition, Godland will screen alongside 14 other films, many of them their directors’ first feature.

Hlynur Pálmason was born and raised in Iceland and then moved to Denmark to study filmmaking at the Danish National Film School. His debut film, Winter Brothers (2017), won four awards in the main competition of the Locarno Film Festival and went on to win 30 awards. Godland is his third feature film.

Icelandic Film “Lamb” Double-Nominated in Cannes

lamb dýrið noomi rapace

An Icelandic supernatural drama directed by Valdimar Jóhannsson, Lamb (Dýrið), received its world premiere yesterday at the Cannes Film Festival in France. The film has been nominated for the festival’s Golden Camera Award as well as the Un Certain Regard Award. It is Valdimar’s first feature film as a director and he told RÚV it is a dream and an honour that the film was chosen for the festival.

Lamb follows a childless couple, María and Ingvar, as they “discover a mysterious newborn on their farm in Iceland. The unexpected prospect of family life brings them much joy, before ultimately destroying them,” according to the film’s plot summary on IMDb. Along with directing, Valdimar wrote the script for the film in collaboration with Icelandic author Sjón.

Learned to deliver a lamb for the role

The film stars Swede Noomi Rapace and Icelander Hilmir Snær Guðnason in the leading roles. Noomi lived in Iceland as a child but this is her first role in Icelandic. The actress revealed that she learned to deliver a lamb for the role. “I was taught by an Icelandic farmer but he went quite fast,” Noomi stated in an interview with France24. “I got a knock, he was like, ‘There’s a lamb coming!’ And I had to run down to the farmhouse and basically put my hands inside of the sheep and pull out a baby lamb.” She called the experience “amazing. I saw life begin and how this amazing, beautiful creature stood up for the first time and started drinking after two or three minutes.”

“We’re just finding our footing after this wonderful reception that the film received,” stated Sara Nassim, one of the film’s producers, after the premiere. “There was a full house and a standing ovation at the end of the screening. We hope people liked the film. All of the responses so far have been very good, there’s been a lot of talk about the film.”

Lamb’s Icelandic premiere is expected this fall.


A White, White Day to Premiere at Cannes

A White, White Day, the newest movie by director and screenwriter Hlynur Pálmason, has been chosen to participate in the Critics’ Week program at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, RÚV reports.

The movie will have its premiere at the film festival, which will be held between the 15th and 23rd of May this summer. A White, White Day tells the story of Ingimundur, a police chief that goes on sabbatical after losing his wife in an accident. Grief-stricken, Ingimundur focuses on building a house for their daughter and grandchild. But soon his attention is directed at a man who Ingimundur suspects had an affair with his wife, his suspicion turns into obsession leading him down a radical path.

The movies’ main roles are played by Ingvar E. Sigurðsson (Trapped, Justice League, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald) and Ída Mekkín Hlynsdóttir. A White, White Day is the second full length film by director Hlynur Pálmason, who directed the movie Winter Brothers in 2017.

Two Icelandic movies have previously been a part of Cannes’ Critics’ Week. Woman at War, directed by Benedikt Erlingsson, had its premiere there last year and Ingaló by Ásdís Thoroddsen back in 1992.