‘Lamb’ Producer Hrönn Kristinsdottír Leads Iceland’s Stockfish Festival as Ninth Edition Kicks Off


The ninth edition of Iceland’s Stockfish Film & Industry Festival, which runs March 23 to April 2, is innovating under an ambitious new team that includes one of Variety’s 10 Producers to Watch, Hrönn Kristinsdottír (“Lamb”), as artistic director and festival veteran Carolina Salas as managing director.

Among the highlights will be a masterclass with Oscar-nominated cinematographer Florian Hoffmeister (“Tár”), who is currently in Iceland shooting the fourth season of HBO’s “True Detective.”

The screening program opens with Ukraine’s “Pamfir,” directed by Dmytro Sukholytkyy-Sobchuk and includes tributes to Oscar-nominated Polish helmer Jerzy Skolimowski and U.K. producer Mike Downey, recipient of the fest’s first “Outstanding Contribution to the Industry” kudos.

Kristinsdottír said: “Mike Downey has achieved a great many things in the worldwide film industry, but he also has a special connection to Iceland, having co-produced Icelandic productions for decades.”

How did a producer like Kristinsdottír, whose latest production “Mannvirki” recently competed for a Tiger Award at Rotterdam, get involved with Stockfish? “This is something new and challenging and since the new board and new managing director of the festival thought I could be of value, I decided to join,” she told Variety.

Known for its intimate atmosphere and ease of networking, the non-profit Stockfish is overseen by the six professional associations of filmmakers in Iceland, members of which comprise the festival board. The associations are also behind the fest’s main venue, the non-profit arthouse and distributor Bío Paradís. Kristinsdottír notes, “In a small society like Iceland, it’s important that we can offer a home for professional workshops, open talks and master classes and that we can invite foreign guests to get to know what Iceland has to offer.” She hopes Stockfish will offer pop-up workshops and training events throughout the year.

For discovering up-and-coming Icelandic talent, there’s the Shortfish competition, which offers prizes for narrative, documentary and experimental film and creative music videos. Kristinsdottír notes, “Shortfish has these four categories to reflect on diverse forms of filmmaking and to allow new talent to emerge. The awards granted are of importance for the new talent to continue their good work.”

Iceland’s national television RÚV buys broadcast rights for the winners; rental house KUKL gives access to equipment; and, in a new feature this year, post-production house Trickshot provides in-kind services.

A revamped works-in-progress section that includes four features, four documentaries and two TV series also highlights local talent. For the first time, it will be recorded as well as live-streamed. It offers a first look at Cannes sidebar-tipped feature debuts such as director Helena Stefánsdóttir’s “Natatorium,” an arthouse drama with strong thriller elements sold by Level K and Ninna Pálmadóttir’s poignant drama “Solitude,” from a script by Icelandic auteur Rúnar Rúnarsson, sold by Party Film Sales.

New to the industry program is a country focus, this year on Slovakia, held in collaboration with Bío Paradís, Košice’s Kino Usmev and the Slovak Film Institute. The “Slovak Day” will include a discussion of national industry production and promotion models and a panel on how to make films physically accessible to diverse communities. It will conclude with a screening of Slovak helmer Peter Kerekes’ multi-awarded “107 Mothers.”

Among new workshops for the local industry are APostLab, a curated program on post-production for producers that shows how to incorporate post-production and VFX into the production process right from the start.

Kristinsdottír will moderate a panel on the do’s and don’ts of international distribution and sales that includes a presentation by Marcin Łuczaj, acquisitions rep from New Europe Film Sales.

Festival partner the Icelandic Film Center will provide a general overview of financial schemes for film and TV production as well as opportunities for co-production, including the Eurimages and Nordic Film and TV funds. The organization will also introduce incoming chief Gísli Snæer, formerly director of the London Film School.

Film in Iceland’s chief film commissioner Einar Hansen Tomasson will discuss the new 35% rebate for foreign productions bringing their entire shoot to Iceland, of which “True Detective: Night Country” was the first to benefit.

After Stockfish wraps, Kristinsdottír will quickly switch to her producer’s hat. She and “Lamb” director Valdimar Jóhannsson will take part in a residency on Sweden’s Fårö Island, the long-time home of Ingmar Bergman, to develop their next feature.

(Pictured, L-R: Hrönn Kristinsdottír, Florian Hoffmeister, Mike Downey)

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