Albatross is another shining example of rural Iceland. In this film, city boy Tommi chases his girlfriend to the West fjords. While they are there she breaks up with him, causing Tommi to rethink his future and where he’s going with his life. The film is directed by Snævar Solvi Solvason, who was an engineering student before moving into film, and Albatross is his debut feature. “The events in the film are true, but I did not experience them. My friend told me about events that happened where he worked and it inspired the idea of being lost in life.” Albatross shows how the creative Icelandic mind in a low-budget situation can work well. “I just got started in this business. I made this film with my own money to begin with, and then I managed to sell it to producers. I like small crews – the idea scares me that you’d have 200 people on set and Starbucks trucks and stuff like that. Stanley Kubrick often had 10-15 people on set.” Albatross relies on the Icelandic spirit to convey the dark comedy it sets out to achieve. “I always hoped it [the Icelandic culture] would shine through. It’s about myself, really. The characters are people I’ve worked with, my friends. And I thought that if it takes place in my hometown and if the actors are playing real people then the Icelandic culture will find its way through.” And while Icelanders aren’t particularly known for their comedy, Snævar always believes that it has a way of shining through. “I think I can never escape humour. I think someone once said to David O’Russell, a director, that if you’re not laughing you’re not getting it. Wherever I look I see comedy in things, so even though I would be making a heavy drama or a brutally violent film, the comedy would always have some place in it I think. I don’t think I could make a drama that is serious about life. I will always have a bit of comedy in my films. You can see that the culture shows – if something happens everybody in town knows it instantly, so that was a type of culture I wanted to express. If somebody sleeps with somebody, if somebody gets stuck, somebody does something stupid, everyone knows instantly. So that’s what the lead character, who is from Reykjavik, experiences over there in the small town.” Much like Reverse, Albatross doesn’t set out to portray the natural Icelandic landscape. Rather, it tends to happen accidentally. “the Director of Photography said to me ‘it doesn’t matter where I point the camera, I always get gorgeous frames’ and I agreed. My hometown is surrounded by mountains and the ocean is close by. Since I didn’t have any money, I couldn’t afford a production designer or anything. I thought I’d just write scenes that take place outside. With no production designer, I decided that God and nature should be the production designer.”

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.