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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Verbúðin Wins Big at Göteborg Film Festival

Icelandic TV series Verbúðin (English title: Blackport) won the 2022 Nordisk Film & TV Fond Prize at the Göteborg Film Festival this week, RÚV reports. The award is given for “outstanding writing of a Nordic drama series” and is accompanied by a prize of NOK 200,000 [ISK 2.85 million; $22,824]. This year’s nominees included Countrymen (Norway; written by Izer Aliu, Anne Bjørnstad), Transport (Finland; written by Auli Mantila), The Shift (Denmark; written by Lone Scherfig), and Vi i villa (Sweden; written by Tove Eriksen Hillblom).

Set in the Westfjords in the 1980s, the story follows a married couple, Harpa and Grimur, as they build a small fishing empire along with their childhood friends. But with the introduction of a new quota system in the country, where the fishing grounds are privatised, the struggle for power results in a feud of jealousy, greed and betrayal.

Hailed as the buzziest TV series to come out of Iceland since Trapped, Verbúðin has indeed already garnered a great deal of international interest, despite the fact that it has not yet been widely broadcast for the international public. Vesturport produced the show for RÚV in Iceland and Arte France, and has production backing from the UK’s Turbine Studios, the Nordic 12 TV Alliance and the Nordisk Film & TV Fond. Prior to its success at Göteborg, it won the Series Mania Award at the Berlinale Co-Pro Series pitching event in 2018 and was also a hit at the Spanish Serielizados TV festival last fall.

Verbúðin has also been extremely popular with audiences at home—80% audience approval according to some figures. But the positive foreign reception of this particularly Icelandic story has been particularly surprising for the creators, says Mikael Torfason, who co-wrote the script with two members of the Vesturport theatre and film company who also star in the series: Nína Dögg Filippusdóttir (The Vallhalla Murders, Trapped), Björn Hlynur Haraldsson (Trapped, The Witcher), and Gísli Örn Garðarsson (Ragnarok, Prisoners). “This is maybe not something you’d expect. The most popular material has usually been crime dramas.”

 

 

Icelandic Film Premieres in South Korea

Agnes Joy film

Icelandic film Agnes Joy received its world premiere in South Korea at the Busan International Film Festival last Saturday. The film will be premiered in Iceland on October 17. RÚV reported first.

Agnes Joy follows the middle-aged Rannveig (Katla Margrét Þorgeirsdóttir), who is bored by her suburban life. When a well-known actor moves in next door, both Rannveig and her rebellious daughter Agnes (Donna Cruz) become interested in him. The film also features performances from Þorsteinn Bachmann, who plays Rannveig’s husband, and rapper Kristinn Óli Haraldsson (known as Króli).

Rannveig and Donna were both present at the premiere, where they gave out autographs and posed for selfies after the screening. Icelandic film A White, White Day will also be screened at the festival.

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