Academic drug dealers win Reykjavik’s Golden Puffin

Italian director Sydney Sibilia’s feature debut, I Can Quit Whenever I Want [+], was named Discovery of the Year and took home the Golden Puffin at Iceland’s Reykjavik International Film Festival, which ended yesterday (5 October).

“A wild and enormously entertaining Italian comedy – you would never guess this is Sibilia’s first feature,” said the jury of his “crazy (and at least partly true) story of out-of-work academics transformed into a gang of unlikely drug dealers”, which takes off when a university teacher is fired because of financial cuts. “We were delighted to discover that during the 11 days of the festival, a ticket to Iceland becomes a passport to the world,” concluded the jury, which – from among the 12 first-feature entries – chose to give a Special Mention to US director Shawn Christensen’s Before I Disappear [+].

UK director Mike Leigh was this year’s guest of honour; he came to discuss his career and his latest movie, Mr Turner [+], at a master class, accompanied by one of his leading ladies, UK actress Marion Bailey. Another class was hosted by Swedish director Ruben Östlund, whose Force Majeure (Turist) [+] is Sweden’s submission for the Oscars.

As usual, two hot tubs at a large Reykjavik swimming pool were turned into theatres, and the Smáralind drive-in cinema returned with the screening of the Farrelly brothers’ Dumb and Dumber (1994). Meanwhile, veteran Icelandic director Hrafn Gunnlaugsson invited people to the living-room cinema – screenings in his private residence at 65, Laugarnestangi.

At the awards ceremony, the Environmental Award was received by Romanian directorTeodora Ana Mihai’s Waiting for August, which follows a 15-year-old girl left to raise her six siblings, while the Church of Iceland Award was snagged by another family drama, Palestinian-Israeli director Suha Arraf’s Villa Touma.

Greek director Jacqueline Lentzou’s graduation movie from the London Film School,Thirteen Blue, was awarded the Golden Egg, while Icelandic director Hlynur Pálmason’s A Painter was named Best Icelandic Short, and Albanian directors Iris Elezi and Thomas Logoreci’s Bota [+] came in first for the international critics’ FIPRESCI Prize.

Emma Vestrheim

Emma Vestrheim is the editor-in-chief of Cinema Scandinavia. Originally from Australia, she is now based in Bergen, Norway, and attends major Nordic film festivals to conduct interviews and review new films.