The Reykjavik International Film Festival has concluded, with the top prize, the Golden Puffin, going to Godless, directed by Ralitza Petrova.
Godless is a Bulgarian-Danish-French co-production which has been winning awards at major international film festivals, including Locarno and Sarajevo. It also won five national awards at Bulgaria’s film festival, the Golden Rose International Film Festival. Godless tells the story of a young physiotherapist struggling to survive in an economically depressed mountain town in post-Communist Bulgaria, who forms an unlikely friendship with one of her elderly patients.
The jury, comprised of Goteborg artistic director Jonas Holmberg, Rams director Grimur Hákonarson and bestselling Icelandic novelist Yrsa Sigurðardóttir, said, “The Golden Puffin goes to a bleak but beautiful film with poignant acting and atmospheric cinematography. The film combines the downbeat suspense of an medicalised crime story with a subtle portrayal of the agony in a post communist society where redemption is only glimpsed in the sacral world of music.”
A special mention was awarded to Johannes Nyholm’s debut feature The Giant, with the jury saying it was an ”imaginative film about friendship, alienation and yearning. With spectacular imagery and heartfelt character portrayals it shows us the importance of loyalty, the joy of sports championships and the ambiguity of size.”
The Faroe Islands documentary by UK director Mike Day, The Islands and the Whales, was awarded RIFF’s environmental award, with the jury saying that the films “breathtaking cinematography, its intimate and unflinching portrayal of a hunting tradition that threatens both predator and prey, and its refusal to reduce complex issues to simple sentiments or easy solutions.”