Whilst we define Scandinavian Aesthetics as encompassing art, design, fashion and music from across the Nordic region, one of our greatest passions is for film. Classic Scandinavian films like The Seventh Seal by Ingmar Bergman, Pelle the Conqueror by Bille August, Elvira Madigan by Bo Widerberg, The Celebration by Thomas Vinterberg, The Pathfinder by Nils Gaup, Elling by Petter Næss and Cold Fever by Friðrik Þór Friðriksson encapsulate the history, culture and aesthetics of the region far better than we can ever hope to do so with this website. We’re not suggesting you stop reading lifeiscarbon®, but we do recommend that you find time to see all of the films mentioned above.
As if catching up on must-see Scandinavian films wasn’t enough, the list of notable new films from the region is growing all the time. For those of you who happen to be in New York, there’s an opportunity to view some of the best new short films from Iceland on Thursday, April 17 at Scandinavia House. The films are part of Scandinavia House’s Nordic Shorts series, an on-going series introducing some of the finest new shorts by the next generation of Nordic filmmakers. The series concludes next month with new films from Norway.
Take a look below to watch Dog, an animation by Hermann Karlsson and to read more about other recent short films from Iceland including Misty Mountain by Óskar Þor Axelsson, Thanks For Helping by Benedikt Erlingsson, Wrestling by Grímur Hákonarson, Whatever by Gísli Darri Halldórsson, Rattlesnakes by Hafsteinn Gunnar Sigurðsson, and Anna by Helena Stefánsdóttir.
Dog (Hundur) by Hermann Karlsson (Iceland & Scotland, 2007)
A melancholic yet witty story about people’s reactions to a dog’s death. There is something to be said for a movie that can convey a wave of emotion in little over a minute. What this Icelandic film lacks in running time, it certainly makes up for in feelings. With a muted color palette of mostly gray and white, Dog feels like an overcast winter afternoon. Despite looking as though old-fashioned animation techniques were used, in reality the director used a mixture of 2D computer-drawn animation and painted-cell animation. Shown in the Sundance Film Festival in 2008. (English dialogue. 1 min 18 sec.)
You can view Dog (Hundur) here.
Anna by Helena Stefánsdóttir (Iceland, 2007)
Anna has carefully laid a coffee table for two. Sitting at the table, making sure that everything is ready, she realizes that she has no sugar. Her excitement at the prospect of inviting her neighbor Adam over turns to concern: she needs to go to the grocery store. Her fear is due to the fact that she has Tourette Syndrome and can’t stop herself from imitating other people’s movements. On her way to the grocery store the Tourette’s gradually takes control of her body. Anna manages to buy the sugar, but back at home, she is messy and tired. She cannot invite Adam over. Once again, she has failed. Determined to end her miserable, lonely life, she steps onto the balcony railing intending to jump. Standing at the other end of the balcony, a concerned Adam sees Anna and makes contact with her. He then cleverly saves her life. (No dialogue. 13 min.)
Misty Mountain (þokufjöll) by Óskar Þór Axelsson (Iceland, 2007)
During the Cold War, NATO operated a Radar Station at the top of Mount Heiðarfjall in the remote Northeast of Iceland. While based there in the late 1960s, Sgt. Willard made several inexplicable trips through time to the year 2006. During his last trip, he witnessed the funeral of a young woman he had met and fallen in love with. And now, as his former destination in time becomes the present day, he returns as an old man to rectify the young woman’s destiny. (English dialogue. 32 min.)
Rattlesnakes (Skröltormar) by Hafsteinn Gunnar Sigurðsson (Iceland, 2007)
Rattlesnakes recently won the Audience Choice, Student Choice, and Festival Awards at Columbia University’s annual film festival and was nominated for the best short film at the Icelandic Edda awards. Some people spend their lives constantly looking out for snakes. Some people have to wear boots all the time. But people in Iceland have the privilege of wearing whatever shoes they want when they leave their homes. (English subtitles. 23 min.)
Thanks For Helping (Takk Fyrir Hj̙álpið) by Benedikt Erlingsson (Iceland, 2007)
Gunna is driving on a lonely mountain road when she suddenly runs out of gas. Luckily, she sees a car parked a little further down the road. Clueless, she doesn’t notice that the driver is planning a suicide and asks him for help. Their acquaintance leads to a new twist of fate. (Icelandic dialogiue. 13 min.)
Whatever by Gísli Darri Halldórsson (Iceland, 2005)
This animated music video for the Icelandic band Leaves follows a zoo worker who has drifted through life without interacting with anyone. Everything is turned upside-down, however, when he meets his one and only. (No dialogue. 5 min.)
Wrestling (Bræðrabylta) by Grímur Hákonarson (Iceland, 2008)
Iceland’s national sport seems rather homoerotic to director Grímur Hákonarson. In glíma, or folk wrestling, two opponents maintain a fixed grip on each other’s harnesses, broad belts that encircle their waists and thighs. Locked in this apparent embrace, they attempt to wrestle each other to the ground as they step clockwise in a slow, measured movement resembling a waltz. A code of honor called Drengskapur demands that the wrestlers always exhibit fairness, respect, and caring towards one another. Training partners Elnar and Denni take Drengskapur one step further when they fall in love. Despite inevitable comparisons to Ang Lee’s Brokeback Mountain, this new Icelandic film isn’t about society’s bigotry as much as it is about the men’s resistance to forming a relationship in light of Elnar’s marriage. Wrestling participated in the Sundance Film Festival in 2008. (In Icelandic. 20 min.)