Music documentary opens event

CHICAGO — The world preem of “Sigur Ros — Heima,” a concert docu on the popular Icelandic group helmed by Dean DeBlois, will open the Reykjavik Film Festival today. Pic chronicles two weeks in 2006 when Sigur Ros played its ethereal, atmospheric music during free, unannounced concerts in far-flung corners of their homeland.

Rolling until Oct. 7, Reykjavik incorporates several live music events. German thesp-cabaret artiste Hanna Schygulla, recipient of the fest’s lifetime achievement nod, will perform songs that have had an impact on her life; American indie-rockers Danielson will play in conjunction with a screening of helmer J.A. Aronson’s docu “Danielson: A Family Movie”; and the Midnight Movie event will kick off with a concert of composers whose music enlivened 16 horror classics.

The screening program of 87 pics from more than 30 countries also includes the world preem of Andres Rubio’s Spanish docu “Campillo, Yes I Do,” about a rural village popular for gay weddings.

Since its launch in 2004, the fest has earned a reputation for dynamic programming, combining a competition for first and second features with timely thematic sidebars and retrospectives of important auteurs.

“I am most proud of the variety of films presented in our New Visions category,” said fest director Hronn Marinosdottir. “This year, 15 new directors from 13 countries show their films, all premium examples of how many things there are yet to explore in cinema.”

New Visions titles competing for “Discovery of the Year” in the form of fest’s Golden Puffin include the allegorical “Have You Another Apple?,” from Iranian Bayram Fazli; provocative “Help Me Eros,” from Taiwan’s Lee Kang-Sheng; crowd-pleaser “The Band’s Visit,” from Israeli Eran Kolirin; offbeat family drama “Faces of a Fig Tree,” by Japan’s Kaori Momoi; and “Control,” biopic of Joy Division frontman Ian Curtis from the U.K.’s Ian Corbijn.

Coming-of-agers “Happy New Life,” by Arpad Bogdan, and “Iska’s Journey,” by Csaba Bollock, compete for Hungary alongside thriller “The Trap,” by Serbian Srdjan Golubovic; madcap road movie “Roming,” by Czech Jiri Vejdelek; and experimental drama “Our Private Lives,” from Canadian Denis Cote.

Rounding out the category are black comedy “The Art of Crying,” from Denmark’s Peter Schonau; gay-themed “Japan Japan,” from Israel’s Lior Shamriz; ensembler “Pink,” from Greece’s Alexander Voulgaris; modern Western “Shotgun Stories,” from American Jeff Nichols; and gender-identity exploration “XXY” from Argentina’s Lucia Puenzo.

Jurors for the competition include cult helmer Hal Hartley, Moscow fest program director Kirsi Tykkylainen and vet Icelandic director Fredrik Thor Fredriksson.

The fest’s topical sidebar is devoted to human rights in Iraq, while Spain provides the national cinema focus.

Retrospectives will spotlight Finnish auteur Aki Kaurismaki, recipient of fest’s creative excellence award; iconic German helmer Rainer Werner Fassbinder, who died 25 years ago; and the offbeat comedies of Czech helmer David Ondricek.

Helmer Peter Greenaway will receive the honorary directing nod.

For the second year, Reykjavik will offer a Talent Campus, now with a trans-Atlantic focus. Designed to educate and encourage cooperation among young filmmakers, it will concentrate on making the leap from short to feature.

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