×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Iceland’s Zik Zak, France’s Arizona Prep ‘The Tree’ (EXCLUSIVE)

‘Paris of the North’s’ Hafsteinn Gunnar Sigurdsson sets his third film

Iceland’s Zik Zak Fireworks and France’s Arizona Productions are teaming to produce “The Tree,” a partial change of direction for Iceland’s Hafsteinn Gunnar Sigurdsson whose first two features –  “Either Way” and “Paris of the North” – have carved out his reputation for appealing off-beat dramedy.

“A drama with some elements of an unusual thriller and some very darkly funny moments,” said Gunnar Sigurdsson, “The Tree” has a screenplay by “Paris” co-writer Huldar Breidfjord, the scribe of Fridrik Thor Fridriksson’s “Niceland (Population 1,000,002).”

“The Tree” revolves around a dispute between neighbors over a tree that stands in a garden and casts a shadow on the neighboring patio, fuelling years of neighborly resentment. As car tires are slashed, pets disappear and Atli – the family son, separated, returned home – is forced to sleep in a tent in the garden to guard the precious family tree, lawyers get vicious, chainsaws appear, tempers run high and something has to give…

“In ‘The Tree,’ we follow so-called ordinary people so driven by anger and fear that they lose all dignity and sense, as they display the most abnormal and aggressive behavior,” said Gunnar Sigurdsson, calling “The Tree” “a very precisely composed film – a sharp blend of keenly observed human behavior and of suspense.”

He added: “Although set in Iceland, this is a very universal story. It’s about the moment when your home stops being a safe place, when your neighbors become your worst enemies and your closest environment becomes a war zone. But it’s also a film about grief, love, relationships, parenthood, childhood and trees of course.”

Gunnar Sigurdsson and Zik Zak producer Thorir Sigurjonsson will attend this week’s Berlin European Film Market to follow up on meetings taken at France’s Les Arcs Festival in December, with an aim to tying down potential co-producers and a sales agent. Gunnar Sigurdsson hopes to begin shooting within the next 12 months.

Announced to Variety just before July’s Karlovy Vary Fest, another Gunnar Sigurdsson project, “Kanari” – turning on an Icelander with a deep fear of flying on a flight from hell to Dusseldorf, and more of a comedy than “Paris of the North”- has not been shelved but will shoot after “The Tree,” said Gunnar Sigurdsson.

David Gordon Green remade the director’s debut, “Either Way,” as “Prince Avalanche,” which won Gordon Green a best director Silver Bear at the 2013 Berlin Festival.

In “Paris of the North,” Sigurdsson returns to a dramedic rural Iceland setting his sophomore outing in a moldering one-horse fishing village, total population 150, in Iceland’s North-West, in the middle of nowhere and on a promontory, dwarfed by a towering volcanic bluff, the imposing Thornfinnur.

That provides asylum from city life for Hugi (Bjorn Thors, seen in Baltasar Kormakur’s “Deep”) an ex-alcoholic who teaches at the village school, until his balance is shattered when his estranged father (Icelandic rock singer-actor Heigi Bjornsson) washes up in the village, back from running a bar in Thailand.

“’Paris of the North’ is a dramatic comedy about possible and impossible family ties. It is also an exploration of distances in human relationships – especially the ones that should feel very close – and about the crisis of masculinity,” Sigurdsson told Variety about the film, which was a warmly-received Competition entry at this week’s Goteborg Festival.

More Film

  • FX's 'Snowfall' Panel TCA Winter Press

    John Singleton Hospitalized After Suffering Stroke

    UPDATED with statements from John Singleton’s family and FX Networks John Singleton, the Oscar nominated director and writer of “Boyz N’ the Hood,” has suffered a stroke. Sources confirm to Variety that Singleton checked himself into the hospital earlier this week after experiencing pain in his leg. The stroke has been characterized by doctors as [...]

  • 'Curse of La Llorona' Leads Slow

    'Curse of La Llorona' Leads Slow Easter Weekend at the Box Office

    New Line’s horror pic “The Curse of La Llorona” will summon a solid $25 million debut at the domestic box office, leading a quiet Easter weekend before Marvel’s “Avengers: Endgame” hits theaters on April 26. The James Wan-produced “La Llorona,” playing in 3,372 theaters, was a hit with hispanic audiences, who accounted for nearly 50% [...]

  • Jim Jarmusch in 'Carmine Street Guitars'

    Film Review: 'Carmine Street Guitars'

    “Carmine Street Guitars” is a one-of-a-kind documentary that exudes a gentle, homespun magic. It’s a no-fuss, 80-minute-long portrait of Rick Kelly, who builds and sells custom guitars out of a modest storefront on Carmine Street in New York’s Greenwich Village, and the film touches on obsessions that have been popping up, like fragrant weeds, in [...]

  • Missing Link Laika Studios

    ‘Missing Link’ Again Tops Studios’ TV Ad Spending

    In this week’s edition of the Variety Movie Commercial Tracker, powered by the TV ad measurement and attribution company iSpot.tv, Annapurna Pictures claims the top spot in spending for the second week in a row with “Missing Link.” Ads placed for the animated film had an estimated media value of $5.91 million through Sunday for [...]

  • Little Woods

    Film Review: 'Little Woods'

    So much of the recent political debate has focused on the United States’ southern border, and on the threat of illegal drugs and criminals filtering up through Mexico. But what of the north, where Americans traffic opiates and prescription pills from Canada across a border that runs nearly three times as long? “Little Woods” opens [...]

  • Beyonce's Netflix Deal Worth a Whopping

    Beyonce's Netflix Deal Worth a Whopping $60 Million (EXCLUSIVE)

    Netflix has become a destination for television visionaries like Shonda Rhimes and Ryan Murphy, with deals worth $100 million and $250 million, respectively, and top comedians like Chris Rock and Dave Chappelle ($40 million and $60 million, respectively). The streaming giant, which just announced it’s added nearly 10 million subscribers in Q1, is honing in [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content