Nordic Lights Film Fest
Whenever there is a showing of a new Icelandic film in town I naturally try to see
it and today there were FOUR! Two features, Skrapp Út and Heiðin and two shorts, Síðastibærinn and Bræðrabylta were shown at the venerable (read: old and smelly) Parkway theater in south Minneapolis. Lately, I've been following Ben Hopkins' English language blog about Icelandic films and Heiðin (Small Mountain) was rated highly there as well as at IMDb. Skrapp Út looked a bit dodgy, and I had already seen The Last Farm, and they were being shown at 11:00 AM, so Heiðin and Bræðrabylta won by default. The Weaver graciously consented to join me and we made the thirty mile trek to the theater, where we were rewarded with real Norwegian candy in the lobby:
Bræðrabylta (Wrestling) about two gay Icelandic wrestlers, was a short film that almost defies description. Icelandic wrestling is very stylized- the contestants grasp straps on their opponent's thighs and attempt to throw them to ground. As they maneuver for an advantage it looks very much like close dancing. It was really pretty good, a little heavy on the symbolism, yet very naturalistic. Johann Johannsson's fine score helped make this odd little film feel "bigger" than it was.
The feature, Heiðin, was a film that started out as a slice of life of a small northern Icelandic town on election day, but slowly changed into a multi-generational family study. This was another "small" film, with very good acting and straightforward direction. The plot developed nicely, if very slowly, and reached a surprising conclusion (with a nice cameo from the singer Hafdís Huld.) What kept this from being a really good movie was the atrocious "Music Library" soundtrack by the hack composer Danny Chang- awful, tasteless disco/synth. Why wasn't a talented Icelandic composer used?
I've mentioned it before, but these festivals are becoming all digital projection now. It was so awful, I'm really thinking of never going to one of these again.
We topped off this mixed bag of a day out with coffee at the nearby Cafe Levain, a restaurant built around a commercial bakery, where we sat amidst the supplies:
Good coffee makes everything better.