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Performing Arts History & Criticism

A History of Icelandic Film

by (author) Steve Gravestock

Toronto International Film Festival
Initial publish date
Oct 2019
History & Criticism, Film & Video
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Oct 2019
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In this new study — the first book-length history of Icelandic film in English in nearly two decades — Steve Gravestock traces the evolution of this unique national cinema from its beginnings in the silent era to the present day, as well as its influence from and interaction with two of Iceland’s most powerful cultural forces: its unusually vital literary tradition, which stretches back to the medieval sagas; and its robust independent music scene, which has birthed such global superstars as Björk and Sigur Rós.

Focusing primarily on the rapid growth of feature-length fiction films that followed the establishment of the Icelandic Film Fund in 1979, A History of Icelandic Film charts the development of such key filmmakers as Friðrik Þór Friðriksson (Children of Nature), Baltasar Kormákur (101 Reykjavik), Ágúst Guðmundsson (Land and Sons), Hrafn Gunnlaugsson (When the Raven Flies), Dagur Kári (Nói the Albino), Kristín Jóhanesdóttir (As in Heaven), and Guðný Halldsdórsdóttur (Under the Glacier), and chronicles the emergence of several exciting new voices in the past decade, including Grimur Hákonarson (Rams), Baldvin Z (Jitters), Rúnar Rúnarsson (Volcano), Benedikt Erlingsson (Of Horses and Men),  Ása Helga Hjörleifsdóttir (The Swan), and Ísold Uggadóttir (And Breathe Normally). Additionally, Gravestock investigates such distinctively Icelandic genre-movie traditions as the Viking Film, the folk comedy, and the “Nordic noir,” as well as the prevalence and pervasiveness of the supernatural throughout the cinema as a whole.

Published by the Toronto International Film Festival. Distributed in Canada by Wilfrid Laurier University Press. Distributed outside Canada by Indiana University Press.

About the author

Steve Gravestock has been programming Nordic film for the Toronto International Film Festival since 1999 and has written extensively on the subject in a wide variety of outlets. His previous publications include Don Owen: Notes on a Filmmaker and His Culture and he co-edited and contributed to Geoff Pevere’s Toronto on Film. Gravestock also contributed to William Beard and Jerry White’s North of Everything: English Canadian Film since 1980 and John Sayles: Interviews and wrote the foreword to Entre Nous: The Cinema of Denis Côte.

Steve Gravestock's profile page

Other titles by Steve Gravestock