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.”


RIFF Kicks Off with ‘Bipolar Musical Documentary with Elephants’

The 17th annual Reykjavík International Film Festival, or RIFF, will kick off this year on September 24 and, for the first time, will include online screenings and events, Vísir reports.

The festival will open with a night screening of The Third Pole, a “bipolar musical documentary with elephants” by author and former presidential candidate Andri Snær Magnason and visual artist and director Anní Ólafsdóttir.

Per the description on Andri Snær’s website, The Third Pole is “part road movie, part musical, part serious inquiry into the caverns of the mind” and “follows Anna Tara Edwards, an Icelander raised in Nepal, and legendary musician Högni Egilsson, as they journey to Anna’s childhood home in the mountain jungles to explore the afflictions and superpowers that come with bipolar disorder. Delving into their respective pasts through textured archival footage and home videos, the narrative follows their present-day quest to raise awareness about the disease and come to terms with the impact it’s had on their own lives.”

This is Anní Ólafsdóttir’s first feature-length film, but Andri Snær’s second foray into filmmaking, as he previously co-directed Dreamland, a documentary based on his book Dreamland – a Self Help Manual for a Frightened Nation.

RIFF will run from September 24 to October 20, with in-person screenings at Bíó Paradís and the Nordic House in Reykjavík. This year, the festival is also expanding its reach (and responding to the needs of the current moment) by offering online screenings and events as well. The festival will be highlighting European films this year, as the European Film Awards will be presented in Iceland in December.

See more about the festival, including information on the daily program and how to buy tickets (both available soon) in English here.