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RIFF – Reykjavík International Film Festival

By Tanja Rasmussen

Swim-in screening of The Truman Show.
Photo: Photo: Golli. Swim-in screening of The Truman Show..

The Reykjavík International Film Festival, or RIFF for short, is an 11-day annual film festival that has been running since 2004. It was founded by a mixed group of film professionals and enthusiasts who wanted to present fresh and progressive cinematic experiences to the Icelandic cultural scene. Each year, they offer a wide range of international and independent films as well as highly unique screenings and special events. Taking place all over Reykjavík, with an occasional event even happening out in nature, RIFF might just be the perfect way for film lovers to get to know Iceland. 

When and where does RIFF take place?

The festival takes place in the fall, but the dates vary somewhat between years. This year, 2024, it takes off on 26 September and ends on 6 October. The main venues will be Háskólabíó cinema and The Nordic House, both located within walking distance from Reykjavík city centre. However, other festival venues are usually spread out across the city, with past locations including the Reykjavík City Hall, Bíó Paradís cinema, city libraries, nursing homes and prisons. The festival is also known for screenings in curious and unexpected locations, offering a completely new view of the films being shown. At previous festivals, guests could, for example, enjoy Life of Pi in a swimming pool, horror movies in a cave, and a documentary about Greenland’s melting ice sheet inside Iceland’s second-largest glacier, Langjökull.

Films and other events

During the festival, you’ll be able to see a diverse collection of international dramas and non-fiction films, where independent and up-and-coming filmmakers take centre stage. The films are divided into several categories, including New Visions, Documentaries, and A Different Tomorrow. The screenings are often followed by a director Q&A where festival guests get a chance to chat with directors about the film and gain a unique insight into their work. 

The festival also offers special events, such as the aforementioned swimming pool and cave screenings, virtual reality experiences, cinematic culinary experiences, pub quizzes, and scavenger hunts. Additionally, guests can attend panels, lectures, and workshops, concerts, and exhibitions. Programme brochures for upcoming festivals can be accessed here when they have been made available.

How to get tickets for RIFF

Tickets to individual screenings, special events, and other events usually go on sale a week or two before the festival starts, but 8 ticket clip cards and full festival passes can be bought in advance online. These are valid for all films shown at the festival but not special events. Up-to-date information about ticket sales and prices can be found on the official RIFF website.

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