RIFF: New Visions | Grand Prix Competition

The Reykjavík International Film Festival started Thursday September 28th officially, and lasts until the 8th of October. 86 feature-length and 68 short films are screened from 43 countries, and there is a children’s programme, too. The distinguished guests of honor this year are Werner Herzog, Olivier Assayas and Valeska Grisebach.

The RIFF is proud to present New Visions in its Grand Prix competition: Thirteen up-and-coming directors present their first or second feature film and compete for the main prize, the Golden Puffin. These films challenge cinematic conventions and pave the way for tomorrow’s cinema.

God’s Own Country by Francis Lee (GBR)
Young Johnny is running his father’s farm in Yorkshire, England. In a bid to escape the harsh daily grind, he has no-strings attached sex with men, or gets drunk at the local pub. In the spring, the Romanian Gheorghe starts working on the farm. The initial tension between the two men soon gives way to an intense relationship. //The film has won the prize for the best film in Berlin.

The Rider by Chloé Zhao (USA)
Young cowboy Brady finds himself on crossroads after a tragic riding accident that makes him incapable to do what gives him a sense of purpose: to ride and compete. In an attempt to regain control over his fate, Brady undertakes a search for new identity and tries to redefine his idea of what it means to be a man in the heartland of America. //Prize-winner at Cannes.

Gabriel and the Mountain (Gabriel e a montanha) by Fellipe Gamarano Barbosa (BRA/FRA)
Before entering a prestigious American university, Gabriel decides to travel the world. After ten months on the road, he arrives in Kenya. But discovering Africa as a tourist is not enough for him. He leaves on his own for a journey across several countries until he reaches Mount Mulanje in Malawi, his final destination. Based on a true story. //A prize-winner at Cannes.

Júlia Ist by Elena Martín (ESP)
Architecture student Júlia decides to do an Erasmus semester in Berlin. She leaves her home in Barcelona for the first time, full of expectations. But life in Berlin is far from the adventure she initially imagined. Little by little Julia will build up her life there and get to know who she is in this new context. //Awarded best film and best director in Malaga.

© Carlo Baroncini

Where the Shadows Fall by Valentina Pedi (ITA)
Nurse Anna and her assistant Hans work in an old folks’ home that was once the orphanage where they were imprisoned as children, and they still seem trapped in time and space. Based on a true story. //The film was in competition at the Venice Days, a parallel section of the 74th Venice International Film Festival.

Winter Brothers (Vinterbrødre) by Hlynur Pálmason (DNK/ISL)
A brother odyssey set in a worker environment during a cold winter. We follow two brothers, their routines, habits, rituals and a violent feud that erupts between them and another family. A lack of love story focusing on the younger brother Emil and his need to be loved and desired. //Won six awards at Locarno.

3/4 (Three Quarters) by Ilian Metev (BGR/DEU)
Young pianist Mila prepares for an audition abroad. Her brother Niki distracts her with his unwanted talent for the absurd. Their astrophysicist father Todor seems incapable of dealing with his children’s anxieties. A portrait of a family during their last summer together. //The film won a Golden Leopard at the Locarno International Film Festival.

Soldiers. A Story from Ferentari by Ivana Mladenović (ROU)
Adi, an anthropologist recently left by his girlfriend, moves to Ferentari (the poorest neighborhood in Bucharest), to write about manele music, the pop music of the Roma community. He meets Alberto, a Roma ex-convict, and soon the two men start a love affair. What seems for Adi at the beginning a simple matter of having fun slowly becomes a nightmare

M by Sara Forestier (FRA)
Lila and Mo meet at a bus stop. Lila is preparing for her exams. Mo illegally races cars for a living. Opposites attract, and they fall in love. But Mo carries a secret burden.

Disappearance by Ali Asgari (IRN)
In the course of one cold night in Tehran, two young lovers go from hospital to hospital in search of help. Soon they will have to face the tragic consequences of their youthful naivety. //Premiered at The Venice Film Festival in 2017.

Miracle by Eglė Vertelytė (LTU/BGR/POL)
Close to bankruptcy, Irena, the owner of a struggling pig farm in a tiny post-Communist town, finds a surprising benefactor in a handsome American man who appears to be the answer to all her prayers.

Dreams by the Sea by Sakaris Stórá (FRO/DNK)
On an isolated island, Ester goes about her mundane life, quietly obeying her religious parents. One day the rebellious Ragna moves to town, and together they enjoy the summer nights, dreaming about something different, something better.

Distant Constellation by Shevaun Mizrahi (TUR/NLD/USA)
This haunted reverie drops us inside an Istanbul retirement home, where the battle-scarred residents bask in the camera’s attention. They are pranksters, historians, artists and would-be Casanovas. While the residents are in a limbo-like state, outside, ominous construction equipment transforms the land. //Special mention at the Locarno Film Festival.

Barbara Majsa

Barbara is a journalist, editor and film critic. She usually does interviews with film-makers, artists, designers, and writes about cinema, design and books.