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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A Nerd’s Guide To Iceland

Staff at CCP Headquarters

What has Iceland contributed to the world’s favourite media franchises? Will nerds and fans recognise locations from their most beloved shows and films? Read on to discover just why Iceland is the perfect travel destination for geeks and freaks! 

Remember the days when people were derided as “nerds?” It might seem like a relic of the past, but large swathes of the population have been named as such simply for enjoying interests and hobbies outside of the mainstream. 

Thankfully, these days are long behind us. In the age of the internet, nerds, geeks, and dorks rule the world. Not only have they founded huge fan communities around countless IP’s and franchises, but they have contributed strange and unfathomable leaps in technology, media, and art.

Photo: Golli. Headquarters of CCP Games in Iceland

Why might nerds travel to Iceland? 

If ever a criticism was thrown at nerds, it was that they were unable – or unwilling – to live in reality. This might explain their affinity for fantastical settings like Middle Earth, Westeros, or far planets like
Star Wars’ Naboo or Dune’s Arrakis. 

Well, good news, geeks! 

If there was any country that could be easily construed as having leapt from a creative imagination, it would be Iceland. With its smooth table-top mountains, blackened coastlines, and quaint settlements, it’s easy to imagine yourself travelling through a place of pure fantasy.  

Iceland was discovered by the Vikings

Reykjavík statue
Photo: Golli. A statue in Reykjavík

Excluding the few Irish monks who once lived on Papey Island, it was the Vikings who discovered Iceland. Having braved cold and tempestuous seas in longships, Norwegian settlers were responsible for the founding of Icelandic society. 

Anyone familiar with the Berserker archetype in fantasy – commonly appearing in universes like Warhammer, Dungeons & Dragons, and Final Fantasy – might be interested to know that it was the Vikings who first inspired it. 



In Old Norse, the term berserkr described warriors renowned for their sheer brutality and lack of fear. Fighting while entrenched in a hallucinatory daze, these terrifying barbarians instilled horror in all that faced them in battle. By all accounts, such warriors seemed unkillable.

It is commonly believed that these trances might have been the result of them having ingested the psychedelic strain of mushrooms that grow freely around Iceland. While it may sound like a powerful trip, nerds in Iceland may want to avoid this for the sake of their sanity… 

Visit the Viking Festival in Iceland

Viking Festival Hafnarfjörður

For nerds in Iceland seeking out cosplay opportunities, the Viking Festival is held every June in the town of Hafnarfjörður. 

Visitors will see firsthand how Iceland’s earliest settlers dressed, lived, and spent their time. Expect interesting dining options, colourful outfits, and a spot of sword fighting or wrestling. 

J.R.R Tolkien’s Interest in Iceland

Portrait of Tolkien
Photo: J.R.R Tolkien. Public Domain. CC.

J.R.R Tolkien is famously known as the author of The Hobbit, The Lord Of The Rings trilogy, and The Silmarillion. These are sprawling works of genius that define fantasy to its very roots. Some may know that the writer found much inspiration in the Icelandic Sagas.

But not so many realise that he actually heard many stories of hidden elves and trolls from his Icelandic au-pair, Arndís Þorbjarnardóttir, who lived alongside the Tolkien family in 1929. 

J.R.R Tolkien never had the pleasure of travelling to Iceland himself. But he strongly believed that a knowledge of the Icelandic Sagas was crucial to understanding the foundation of mediaeval writing. In fact, he taught the subject as a Professor of English Language and Literature.



Actually, it might surprise readers to know that Tolkien did not put much importance on actually visiting the places that inspired him, opting instead to learn about them by deeply immersing himself in written works. In a 1943 letter to his son, Christopher, Tolkien writes:

“The bigger things get the smaller and duller or flatter the globe gets. It is getting to be all one blasted little provincial suburb. At any rate it ought to cut down on travel. There will be nowhere to go. So people will (I opine) go all the faster.”

Nerds in Iceland – know that you’re taking part in an adventure that Tolkien never had the joy of discovering. You can read more about ancient Icelandic beliefs in our article; Icelandic Folklore | Myths & Creatures

The creators largely filmed Game of Thrones in Iceland.



Winter is coming… 

This iconic phrase – the ominous words of the northern House Stark – is uttered by almost everyone come September in Iceland. 

It is not just for the novelty and truth behind these words. 

In fact, many locations from HBO’s hit series, Game of Thrones, were filmed in Iceland. Given that fact, this island is forever linked with George R.R Martin’s spectacular fantasy franchise. 

Primarily, Iceland’s snowy winter landscapes stood in for anywhere “north of the wall.” This describes that mysterious and unruly region inhabited by wildling tribes, packs of direwolves, and the White Walkers’ terrifying army of the dead. 

When you watch our hero, Jon Snow, traipsing across a plateau of snow, blackened volcanic rock, and expansive sheet ice, there is an excellent chance you’re looking at the Icelandic countryside.


Where was Game of Thrones filmed in Iceland? 

File:Joseph gatt game of thrones iceland set.jpeg
Photo: Actor, Joseph Gatt, at Thingvellir National Park in Iceland. Wikimedia. CC.

Some of the most famous Game of Thrones shooting locations that nerds in Iceland will want to explore include:

  • Þingvellir National Park 
  • Svínafellsjökull glacier
  • Mýrdalsjökull glacier
  • Lake Mývatn
  • Grótagjá cave
  • Hverir geothermal area
  • Kirkjufell mountain 
  • Dyrhólaey rock arch
  • Skógafoss waterfall 
  • Stakkholtsgjá canyon
  • Þórufoss waterfall 
  • Þjórsárdalur Valley
  • Reynisfjara black sand beach
  • Dimmuborgir 

Filming Locations in Iceland for Star Wars… and other Sci-Fi



If there is one beloved science-fiction franchise that dominates all others, it is Star Wars. 

Lightsabers. Jedi knights. Death Stars. Luke Skywalker. Darth Vader. Even those who have not seen the films know all too well what such terms point to. 

In fact, George Lucas’ fantastical world has made such a dent on global culture that it’s impossible to imagine a world without it. Well, wouldn’t you know that two Star Wars films have actually used Iceland as a shooting location?

Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader
Photo: Mirko Toller. Wikimedia. CC.

If you remember the opening scenes of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016), you may recall how an imperial spacecraft lands on terrain defined by its black pebbles. From the ship steps out an officer of the Galactic Empire. Stormtroopers adorned in black-shell suits guard him on either side, demonstrating their superior rank compared to the more typical, easily-killed white-dressed soldiers.

You might not have realised on watching it, but that’s actually Mýrdalssandur desert, an outwash plain of Mýrdalsjökull ice cap. You can visit this site and others while on a sightseeing trip along Iceland’s picturesque South Coast. 

Iceland was also used in Episode VII: The Force Awakens (2015). The volcano, Krafla, stood in for the infamous ice planet, Starkiller Base. 

What other science-fiction movies were filmed in Iceland? 



There are numerous other examples of Icelandic landscapes standing in for the glorious settings found in science-fiction. Nerds in Iceland will want to catch up on their movies before travelling here.

Most people know that Ridley Scott’s follow-up to the Alien films, Prometheus (2012), famously used Dettifoss waterfall in its opening scene. Then there was Christopher Nolan’s 2014 epic, Interstellar, that used the mighty ice cap, Svínafellsjökull, for trailers and marketing materials. 

Only a year before, Star Trek: Into Darkness (2013) picked out Reynisfjara beach, marking the first time a film in the franchise was shot outside of the US. Another film that year – Oblivion starring Tom Cruise – used Hrossaborg volcanic crater, Jarlhettur ridge, and Drekavatn lake as shooting locations.  

What Superheroes movies were filmed in Iceland? 



Superhero movies have become a genre in and of themselves. And with so many action-packed blockbusters released every year, it’s little wonder that some of them used Iceland as a primary filming location. 

One of the first superhero movies to shoot in Iceland was Batman Begins (2005). Christian Bale is seen training in front of the glaciers,  Svínafellsjökull and Vatnajökull, standing in for the heavenly mountains of the Himalayas.

Other superhero films that have since been shot in Iceland include Captain America: Civil War (2016), Justice League (2017), Transformers: Age of Extinction (2014), and Thor: The Dark World (2013). 

Are there any other movies that were filmed in Iceland? 

Ben Stiller in Iceland
Photo: Ben Stiller on set in Iceland. Wikimedia. CC.

Wouldn’t you know it… there are! 

One film that puts Iceland firmly in the spotlight is Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga (2020). Starring Will Ferrell and Rachel McAdams, the story follows two Icelandic musicians as they take part in the Eurovision Song Contest – a long held dream of the Icelandic people. 

Another famous movie shot in Iceland is The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (2013), starring Ben Stiller. Many people often cite this uplifting dramatic comedy as their first introduction to Iceland.

Not only does much of the story take place here, but the director places great emphasis on sweeping landscape shots, unveiling this island’s beauty in true cinematic form.  

Ultimately, Hollywood has used Iceland as a production stage for so many features that it’s tricky to give them all due credit. Among other big titles include Flags of Our Fathers (2006), Journey to the Center of the Earth (2008), Jupiter Ascending (2015), and The Fate of the Furious (2017). 

Iceland developed EVE Online.

CCP headquarterrs interior
Photo: Golli. CCP Games in Iceland

As mentioned, Icelanders are well adept when it comes to technology. Our young island boasts very fast internet speeds thanks to being between Europe and North America. Thus, it has more-than-capable data centres and servers, making it one of the best places in the world to develop video games. 

The best known video game to come out of Iceland is the epic and complex EVE Online. For those unaccustomed to the game, CCP’s major ongoing project is an enormous living universe where ship captains – or capsuleers, as they are known – take on various missions as part of their chosen faction. 



Whether that be dominating a nearby star system, or trading in expensive minerals to earn a profit, EVE Online offers its players plenty to do. Though, be warned: EVE Online has been out for over a decade now. With the difficult mechanics and ever changing in-game economy to take into consideration, it will likely take time to truly maximise your time in space.

For those nerds in Iceland interested, CCP commissioned the EVE Online Monument in tribute to their player base. Located at Reykjavik’s scenic Old Harbour, visitors will discover the usernames of thousands inscribed onto the dual domes of the sculpture. It is an interesting and fitting dedication to how users have helped develop and grow the world of EVE Online. 

The Nexus Store – Where Icelandic Nerds Unite!

No photo description available.
Photo: Nexus Facebook.

Nerds in Iceland – are you looking for merchandise from your favourite movie and literature franchises while exploring the country? If so, the famous Nexus Store has you covered. 

Figurines, board games, costumes, and comics are all found at Nexus. While many belong to globally beloved franchises, a devoted selection is dedicated solely to local creations. After all, you may not speak or read Icelandic, but a comic book written and published in this island’s mother tongue still makes for a brilliant souvenir or gift! 

However, be aware that no Nexus stores are located in downtown Reykjavik, so you may need to make a special trip in order to browse their wares. 

Nexus also boasts a great online shop. Even if you can’t make it in-person, it’s worth stopping by its website to see the wide selection of items on offer. 

Þröstur Leó Gunnarsson Wins Best Actor in BIF & ST Awards

Þröstur Leó Gunnarsson

Icelandic actor Þröstur Leó Gunnarsson has won best lead actor in the 2023 Bari International Film & TV Festival (BIF & ST) for his role in the 2022 film Driving Mum (Á ferð með mömmu), directed by Hilmar Oddson.

The award ceremony took place April 1 at the Teatro Petruzzelli in Bari.

In his winning performance, Þröstur Leó Gunnarsson portrays Jón, whose mother has recently passed away. The film, a black comedy, documents a road trip across Iceland with Jón, his dog, and his deceased mother.

In his acceptance speech, Þröstur thanked his colleague Kristbjörg Kjeld, director and writer Hilmar Oddson, and also producer Hlín Jóhannesdóttir for their cooperation. The dog Dreki, notable for his numerous appearances in Icelandic film, also received special thanks.

This is the third international award Driving Mum has received. Other prizes include the Grand Prix and Best Original Score at the 26th annual Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival (PÖFF).

With the award, Þröstur Leó Gunnarsson joins the rank of such past recipients as Max von Sydow, Helen Mirren, and Roberto Benigni.




Valdimar Jóhannsson’s Lamb Sweeps Edda Awards

Lilja Jóns. Lamb

Valdimar Jóhansson’s 2021 film, Lamb, swept the Edda awards, which took place this Sunday September 18.

Nominated in 13 categories, the folk horror film took home a total a 12 awards, including film of the year, director of the year (Valdimar Jóhannsson) and screenplay of the year (Valdimar Jóhannsson and Sjón).

The Edda Prize is awarded annually by the Icelandic Film and Television Academy since 1999. Under consideration this year were 154 television works, 10 films, 13 documentaries, and 15 entries for youth media.

Icelandic filmmaker Þráinn Bertelsson was also recognized for his work in cinema. Þráinn is best known for his films Jón Oddur & Jón Bjarni (1981), Dalalíf (1984), Skammdegi (1985), and Magnús (1989). He has since been active in journalism and politics.

At the award ceremony, Þráinn stated: “I am extremely grateful that I somehow managed to work only on things that I was interested in. Everything I do, I do for fun and hopefully for someone else too.”

Iceland’s contribution to the 2022 Oscars was also selected at the award ceremony, Berdreymi (Beautiful Beings), by director Guðmundur Arnar Guðmundsson. The film concerns a troubled teenage boy with a difficult home who befriends a bullied child at school. According to the jury, the film “is a haunting story that is presented with calmness and consideration […] The tone, spirit, and feel of the narrative exploits the potential of the form in a remarkable way, resulting in a raw and powerful cinematic experience.” Guðmundur is also known for his 2016 film, Hjartasteinn (Heartstone).

Read more: Of Lamb and Legends (for subscribers)


Reykjavík International Film Festival Launches Despite Decrease in Funding

reykjavík international film festival

The Reykjavík International Film Festival (RIFF) will be beginning its 19th season this September 29th. However, the scope of the event will be slightly pulled back this year, given recent cuts in public funding to the arts.

A Reykjavík institution

RIFF has become a centre of the film scene in Iceland is recent years, spotlighting lesser-known international directors. Despite the decline in funding, some 70 films will be featured from 59 nations.

Especially prevalent this year will be short-form films, with some 207 short films featured. Additionally, a special emphasis is being placed this year on women in filmmaking, with a majority of the featured films directed by female directors.

New tech

In a drive to reduce the environmental impact of RIFF, the use of printed materials such as programmes and posters will be reduced. Instead of programmes, RIFF is launching an app this year to help reduce paper waste.

Movie-goers will be able to access the programme schedule, in addition to buy tickets and find other information about the screenings.

Anticipated releases

Several films will be making their world premiere at this year’s RIFF, such as Icelandic director Sigurjón Sighvatsson’s Exxtinction Emergency, a documentary about the Extinction Rebellion environmental movement.

RIFF has also been known for untraditional screenings, including drive-in car screenings and pool screening at Reykjavík’s swimming facilities. This year RIFF will also feature a glacial screening inside Langjökull, where Lars Ostenfeld’s documentary Into the Ice will be shown. According to a press release from RIFF, this represents “a unique opportunity to understand and perceive the power of filmmaking in the natural setting of the film’s subject.”


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.

Beloved Cinema Bíó Paradís Reopens on Friday

Rekjavík indie movie theatre Bíó Paradís is reopening this Friday, following several months of closure and a The cinema had officially closed its doors on May 1 and laid off its staff after an approaching rent hike and the COVID-19 pandemic had put its existence in jeopardy. Thanks to support from the City of Reykjavík and the Ministry of Culture, the cinema is now reopening – and according to its Managing Director, it’s better than ever.

“This is Paradise like you’ve never seen it before,” Hrönn Sveinsdóttir, Bíó Paradís’ managing director told Fréttablaðið. Since the theatres’ closure in May, Hrönn has been working day and night to complete much-needed renovations to the cinema, alongside staff and an army of volunteers. “People have been showing up here, no joke, to do volunteer work, over and over and over. Weekend after weekend. People just show up. It’s amazing. We ourselves have of course been working day and night. None of us has taken a summer vacation and we have been working most weekends since the theatre was closed in March in order to try and make this a reality.” Bíó Paradís now boasts new projection screens, a new projector, and a new bar, alongside countless other fixes and upgrades to its ventilation system, washrooms, and more.

Today is the cinema’s 10th anniversary, and when it opens on Friday, there will be no shortage of films to celebrate the milestone. This weekend’s programming features four premieres and Icelandic Documentary Film Festival Skjaldborg. The festival is normally held in Patreksfjörður in the Westfjords, and Hrönn points out that this year presents a unique opportunity for capital area residents to attend. “Skjaldborg is in my opinion the most fun film festival in the world. It’s more fun than Cannes… no one should let themselves miss it!”

Sambíó Invites Bíó Paradís to Kringlan

The Sambíó theatre chain has invited the Bíó Paradís cinema to continue its operations in its facilities in the Kringlan shopping mall, Vísir reports. The invitation comes following the announcement this week that the popular downtown cinema, known for programming award-winning foreign movies and hosting a variety of film festivals, will be forced to close on April 30 due to a rent increase. 

A press release issued by representatives of Sambíó put forth the idea that Bíó Paradís could potentially be given a few of the theatres in its Kringlan location. “Kringlan has a very central location and very good services,” read the statement. “Sambíó Kringlan is a very popular theatre for older cinema-goers who want to see high-quality films. Oscar-winning films have been very popular at Kringlan, along with live screenings of performances staged by the Metropolitan Opera. The theatre is also popular with families.” A collaboration with Bíó Paradís would, therefore, make sense for Sambíó’s broad audience, explains the press release.

Bíó Paradís was opened in the fall of 2010, taking over from movie theatre Regnboginn. It has been an important venue for the Icelandic film community ever since. The theatre’s landlords, former executives of the investment fund GAMMA, have decided to nearly triple its rent in order to bring the space in better alignment with its market value.

Bío Paradís ‘vital to daily life and culture in downtown Reykjavík’

Calls for the government to support the downtown institution have poured in since the announcement of its imminent closure was made. A Stundin poll asking readers to vote on whether they support government funding for the cinema has seen high support, with 86% of its 6,133 respondents saying they “strongly support” government funding and 5% saying that they “support” it. 

On Friday, the Cultural Heritage Agency of Iceland issued a statement urging the City of Reykjavík to take whatever measures necessary to ensure the continued operations of the theatre, which they consider “vital to daily life and culture in downtown Reykjavík.” In its statement, the Agency noted that a 2019 conservation assessment of the cinema’s space at Hverfisgata 54 found that it had average to high conservation value due to its cultural history and cultural and educational programming.  

“…[I]t is the only operating cinema left in downtown Reykjavík,” continued the Agency statement. “And thus is a living testimony to this aspect of popular culture and entertainment in Reykjavík. The operation of the ground-floor cinema adds a lot to street life and atmosphere on Hverfisgata.”

Bíó Paradís CEO Hrönn Sveinsdóttir says the cinema has appealed to the City of Reykjavík and the government for support, but talks are still ongoing. 


Bíó Paradís to Close Its Doors This Spring

Bíó Paradís

Reykjavík’s only downtown movie theatre, Bíó Paradís, expects to close its doors this spring, RÚV reports. The theatre, known for programming award-winning foreign movies and hosting a variety of film festivals, has given its staff three months’ notice. The closure is a consequence of the theatre’s landlords nearly tripling the rent.

Bíó Paradís was opened in the fall of 2010, taking over from movie theatre Regnboginn. Along with screening foreign movies and hosting a variety of festivals, the theatre is an important venue for Icelandic film community, screening local films and hosting educational events for children “with the aim of enhancing knowledge and education of this important art form,” as the theatre’s website states.

The theatre’s landlords are former executives of the investment fund GAMMA. They have decided to nearly triple Bíó Paradís’ rent in order to raise it close to market value. Hrönn Sveinsdóttir, the cinema’s CEO, says the rent hike takes effect this coming July. “This issue is not about the owners. If it were any other investor, they would probably do the same thing,” Hrönn told reporters at Stundin. “The current owners were willing to rent to us at below market value but made it clear to me that after five years, on June 30, 2020, the rent would be raised.”

Hrönn says the cinema has appealed to the City of Reykjavík and the government for support, but with no success so far. Talks with the city are ongoing. “We’re still talking to them and we hope that it’s still possible to save this operation, the first and only home of cinema in Iceland.” Hrönn adds that the only way to keep Bíó Paradís operating is to ensure it can remain at its current location, as it would be too expensive to relocate.

An ongoing poll on Stundin’s website asks visitors to vote on whether they support the government funding the cinema in order to keep it open. As of the time of writing, 89% of respondents have voted that they “strongly support” government intervention.