My 2016: Nína Dögg Filippusdóttir

Cinema Scandinavia: This year was saw you in Trapped, which has become so popular. Could you sense you were working on something that would be popular?

Nína Dögg Filippusdóttir: I suppose so, the production was full of great people. We shot most of it out in the country, far from Reykjavik, and sometimes in some very tough weather conditions. We’d get snowed in, for example. So the cast and crew became like a big family. Everyone was aware of the size of the production, so there was a big heart behind it all. We could all feel it was something special in the making, and Baltasar Kormakur has a tendency to bring things to the next level.

CS: What was the experience like shooting this series?

 NDF: Well she shot it over four-five months, and quite often we’d actually get ‘trapped’ in Siglufjordur. I would have to perform in the theatre in Reykjavik and would need to make a five-hour drive from Siglufjordur. However, this turned out to be one of the worst winters on record, so I’d be spending ten hours in a blizzard trying to make the theatre. Sometimes it was extremely tight and quite often I almost didn’t make it, but luckily it all worked out!

CS: You were also in Heartstone, which has been the biggest winner for Iceland at film festivals…

 NDF: Heartstone is such a beautiful film about friendship and a transition from child to teenager where all the hormones kick in and we get a different view on the world. This was the director, Guðmundur Arnar Guðmundsson’s first feature film and it was so well made. I’m excited to see his work in the future.

CS: What are your thoughts on the current Icelandic film industry, especially considering the success abroad?

 NDF: We have some pretty amazing artists here in Iceland at the moment and I always say it comes from the ice and fire around us. Mix that with the elves and fairies and you’re bound to have some crazy stuff erupting from it! But nonetheless, I think we could be doing so much more. The financing of projects is the biggest obstacle. The current funds are slow to adapt and are also completely underfunded. It’s touch making films and television series in Iceland, and the authorities need to catch up quickly if it’s all going to thrive in unison. There is a big gap, but the artists here are magicians and what they’ve managed to create in these tough circumstances is unique.

CS: What has been your favourite Nordic film this year?

 NDF: I would have to say The Oath by Baltasar Kormákur. It’s a very important and strong story, not to mention very well made. It’s a story that too many Icelandic people are familiar with and it’s shot as a thriller, which has made it very successful and brought people to the cinema here in Iceland. It’s really great when people get behind the film and its topic becomes a platform for discussion. So a big thumbs up for The Oath. Not to mention my husband is in it, and one of my best friends wrote it. Heartstone is a very different, but nonetheless a wonderful film. It has not been shown in Iceland yet.

CS: Where can we see you next year? 

NDF: I have a great television series coming up. It’s called Fangar (Prisoners) and takes place in Iceland’s only women’s prison. Linda, played by Thora Bjorg Helga, is sent to the prison after committing a vicious assult that leaves her father in a coma. However, no one knows that she harbours a dark secret that could tear her family apart, and a secret that will set her free. It’s a family driven drama series about all the women in Linda’s family and how the crime affects all of them. I created it with Unnur Ösp Stefánsdottir and we developed it for nine years together. It’s directed by Ragnar Bragason and written by Margrét Örnólfsdóttir and Ragnar Bragason. It is produced by Mystery production and co-produced by my own company Vesturport and RÚV (the Icelandic National TV station).



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.