Cannes, Berlin, Venice… Reykjavik? Our small northern city may not be the first thing that comes to mind when it comes to cinema, but for 19 years, the people behind the Reykjavik International Film Festival (RIFF) have done their best to change that perception. I have been doing my best.

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“The idea was to change the film culture in Iceland,” said the RIFF founder and festival director.
Hrönn Marinósdóttir talks about the origins of the festival. “We start thinking about what kind of city Reykjavik is. It’s not like the old cities of Berlin, Cannes or Venice. Reykjavik is a young and vibrant city. So it’s like the spirit of the city itself.” I also wanted to focus on things.”

blood in the mirror

Over the past 20 years, RIFF has done more than meet these goals. It offers a consistently fresh and engaging program, sprinkled with unusual events that will appeal to those not interested in movies. Like the annual ‘Swim in Cinema’ screening, the public swimming pool Sundherin has been transformed into a unique screening room.

“The entire swimming pool is staged,” RIFF spokesperson Erna Kaaber happily explains. “If it’s a horror movie, the mirror will leak blood when you go to the bathroom.”

Additionally, RIFF continues to champion young talent in its ‘New Vision’ competition. In this competition, first-time and his second-time directors compete to award the coveted golden puffin. After all, it is Iceland.

Despite their success as an organization, the RIFF team is not content to rest on their laurels and bask in the glory of their achievements. Instead, Industry Day is focusing on developing his program, inviting filmmakers from around the world to Reykjavik as the festival progresses towards his 20th anniversary.

movie city reykjavik

“Another big goal of the festival is to showcase Iceland as a film country and Reykjavik as a film city,” says Hrönn.

“The heart of Industry Days is to support the Icelandic film industry,” says Industry Days Manager Emma Romeijn. “One of the main ways we do that is by facilitating connections—the fact that it brings people together, both nationally and internationally.”

“Film is a very powerful medium,” concludes Hrönn. “That was the way news was told in the old days. It’s how we see the world. Viscera.”

“It involves all your senses,” Erna agrees. “With sight, sound and good direction, you can smell what you see on screen.”

“The idea was to change the film culture in Iceland.”

Big screen, not a laptop

“And it’s a collective experience,” adds Emma. “I think there’s a reason why we continue to watch movies on the big screen and haven’t completely replaced it on the laptop because it’s more about what you experience on the screen, but it’s more about having a conversation with you.” When you leave the movie theater, go to the lobby, have a drink and discuss what you just saw, and that’s part of it. It is not.”


With a program of over 70 films over 11 days, we don’t blame you if the RIFF brochure daunts you. To help you navigate the extensive list of films and events on offer, here are the top three not-to-be-missed moments from this year’s festival of Reykjavik Grapevine and his RIFF.

Into the Ice
Oct 4 08:00

Love going to the cinema but wish it was a little cooler? Hello, RIFF has the perfect movie experience for you. Depart Reykjavik at 8am by bus and after a little sightseeing along the way, travel to the heart of Langjökull, his second largest glacier in Iceland, where Lars directs his Ostenfeld director ‘Into the Ice’. Appreciate The documentary depicts the melting of the Greenland ice sheet and includes footage of the director dropping him from a height of 200 meters onto the glacier. pretty cool.

eternal spring
October 5 17:30

A half-contemporary documentary, half-fiction story, Eternal Spring tells the story of the religious group Falun Gong and their hacking of Chinese state television in 2002. Director Jason Loftus joins Reykjavík Grapevine and other guests to discuss press freedom in Iceland and beyond, and how the idea of ​​free speech is conceived in his 21st century.

girl gang
October 7, 17:30

Part of RIFF’s “A Different Tomorrow” selection, “Girl Gang” follows 14-year-old influencer Leonie as she navigates life’s trials and tribulations in the social media spotlight. Following the film, Reykjavik Grapevine will host his panel discussion with guests, including filmmaker Susanamrez, on how social media is affecting us all today.

Check the website for the full RIFF schedule, tickets and more.

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