Iceland raises its game

IFC unveils strong local lineup

REYKJAVIK — It’s been a good year so far for Icelandic directors.

Solveig Anspach’s stoner comedy “Back Soon” claimed the Locarno fest’s Variety Piazza Grande prize, while Olaf De Fleur’s Filipino transsexual story “The Amazing Truth about Queen Raquela” nabbed awards at the Berlinale and New York’s New Festival, and opened in Los Angeles and New York last week through Here! Films.

U.S. distrib IFC scooped up the rights to another fest hit, Baltasar Kormakur’s police thriller “Jar City.” Meanwhile, Kormakur’s latest, “White Night Wedding,” premiered to international auds in Toronto and is on its way to the Oscars as a contender for best foreign-language film.

The Icelandic Film Center, the go-to government agency responsible for funding and promoting Icelandic production, gathered some of the international press and industry visiting the 5th Reykjavik Intl. Film Festival for an informal show-and-tell about upcoming features and docus. From what was on display, international prospects look promising.

The prolific Kormakur is about to go into post on the New Mexico-shot “Run for her Life,” which features American talent, including Sam Shepherd. Kormakur also produces and plays an ex-con taking on one last smuggling gig in crimer “Reykjavik — Rotterdam” from helmer Oskar Jonasson.

After some cast changes, Dagur Kari (“Noi the Albino”) is editing his first English-language pic “The Good Heart,” starring Brian Cox, Paul Dano and Isilde Le Besco.

Vet helmer Fridrik Thor Fridriksson (“Children of Nature, “Cold Fever”) moves into non-fiction with “The Sunshine Boy.” Narrated in English, it’s a journey through different countries and cultures where every stop offers a new perspective on autism.

Also tackling global issues, docu “Dreamland,” from helmer Thorfinnur Gudnason, looks at the exploitation of natural resources, corporate power and democracy. Based on Andri Snaer Magnason’s prizewinning book of the same title, it questions the Icelandic government’s willingness to sacrifice its untouched wilderness and stunning nature to become one of the world’s top aluminum smelters.

Finally coming in for a landing is long-in-the-making docu “Feathered Cocaine,” from Thorkell Hardarson and Orn Marino Arnarson, about the secret world of falconry.

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