Guðmundur Arnar Guðmundsson’s WHALE VALLEY a Vimeo Staff Pick

The website Vimeo has selected Icelandic film director  Guðmundur Arnar Guðmundsson’s short film Whale Valley as a staff pick. Guðmundsson has been currently travelling around the international film festivals with his feature-length film Heartstone, which has picked up several major awards.

Here’s the description of Whale Valley:

In Iceland, depending on the season, the days or nights can be excruciatingly long. While the sun highlights the pastoral landscapes, the utter lack of it makes the mountainous shadows grow longer and darker. It’s no overstatement to say this affects the moods of the people. For filmmaker Guðmundur Arnar Guðmundsson, who grew up in rural Iceland in a small fishing village, the darkness and the societal pressure to be a “strong” man were isolating. Many in his town and a few friends have succumbed to suicide as a means for escape. For Guðmundsson, he luckily found film as a source of catharsis, using it as a means to filter his feelings. “Whale Valley,” for instance, was manifested from a series of dreams that he experienced. “Whale Valley” opens on an isolated farm in rural Iceland, as a seven-year-old boy accidentally interrupts his older brother’s suicide attempt. Less shocked and more upset, the younger boy reluctantly agrees to keep his brother’s secret in hopes that they’ll reconcile.

With a deft hand and a remarkable sense of mise en scène, Guðmundsson captures lightning in a bottle with these young actors in the rugged landscape of Iceland. Each frame could be a painting, yet the beauty in it is dark, wet and lonesome. Against this backdrop and with the hard physical labor and quiet life of the family, many of the film’s most potent emotions simmer under the surface, never overtly expressed, similar to the boys’ themselves. This stunning short film is now having its online premiere after garnering a Special Mention at the Cannes Film Festival and won over 50 international awards. After watching the film, be sure to read my interview with director Guðmundur Arnar Guðmundsson below.

There’s also an interview with Guðmundsson, which you can read here (or you can read our interview on Cinema Scandinavia!)

Watch Whale Valley below:


CategoriesIceland Shorts Watch
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.