When it comes to the International Feature Film category at the Academy Awards, the somewhat archaic submission process involves a country nominating just one feature from the year’s filmmaking output. Regarding eligibility criteria, international co-productions are in a tricky spot, whereby factors such as how much funding came from a specific country, or what per cent of the dialogue is in a certain language, determine which nation can most justifiably claim it as their own in the pursuit of an Oscar.
Awards season rumours suggest director Hlynur Pálmason’s darkly comic epic Godland fell victim to those eligibility debates. While some funding came from France and Sweden, the film was also backed by Icelandic and Danish production companies, is set mainly in Iceland after a Denmark-set prologue, and follows a Danish character’s attempted assimilation in Iceland. There’s a roughly even split between Icelandic and Danish dialogue, but in the end, neither territory submitted the film.
Godland may have been not Icelandic enough, but also not Danish enough. But then, this is a quite fitting outside-the-film circumstance for a story in which cultural clash and notions of societal belonging are explicitly part of the text; a film that includes separate title cards in both Icelandic and Danish at its open and close…
Full review for Little White Lies
A veteran performer who has worked extensively in his native Iceland, Ingvar Eggert Sigurðsson is perhaps best known to British audiences as one of the leads of hit crime series Trapped, which has aired on BBC Four, and for the eccentric dark comedy Of Horses and Men (2013). His credits in international productions include roles in HBO’s Succession, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald (2018), Everest (2015) and Kathryn Bigelow’s K-19: The Widowmaker (2002).
The thrilling A White, White Day — which won Sigurðsson an acting prize in the Critics’ Week section at last year’s Cannes Film Festival — offers his greatest showcase to date. The sophomore feature from Icelandic writer-director Hlynur Pálmason, it explores how anguish and resentment can manifest in dangerous and disturbing ways.
Sigurðsson plays Ingimundur, a prickly widowed police officer who processes the loss of his wife in a car accident by focusing his attention on a labour-intensive building project to provide a new home for teenage granddaughter Salka (Ída Mekkín Hlynsdóttir) and her mother. When evidence suggests that Ingimundur’s late wife was having an affair, his quest for the truth begins to consume him and puts the safety of Salka in jeopardy.
Here, Josh Slater-Williams speaks to the actor about A White, White Day and the current state of Icelandic cinema…
Full interview for the Curzon Blog