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Documentary Film
Iceland,
Poland
2018
61 minutes
subtitles: 
English

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Łukasz Długołęcki, Haukur M. Hrafnsson
Paweł Ziemilski
Arni Valur Kristinsson, Martina Bertoni
Filip Drożdż
Dorota Wardęszkiewicz
Paweł Ziemilski, Łukasz Długołęcki, Haukur M. Hrafnsson
Piotr Kubiak, Paweł Szygendowski
On the road to a better life you are inevitably forced to leave many things behind. The Polish village of Stare Juchy is such a left-behind place. Since the 1980s, a third of its population emigrated to Iceland and none of them have returned to date. The relatives who stayed in Poland – usually the emigrants’ parents and grandparents – participate via Skype and Facebook in the lives of those who left. They rarely manage to visit each other. In the village, which is still getting emptier, time stands still and its inhabitants become the observers of events far from their surroundings. Their children have careers as police officers or construction managers, their grandchildren sing Icelandic pop songs, and they themselves have no choice but to report on the weather or the mushroom harvest. Every so often, a tentative missing feeling, even a menacing longing, creeps into the conversations. The hope for a reunion dies last.

Paweł Ziemilski uses sequences shot in Iceland that he projects on every imaginable surface in the Polish village. Thus polar lights shine in the living room, a grandfather plays football with his grandson’s image and a gym becomes an icy coast. This aesthetic trick emphasizes the melancholy and absurdity of a situation in which the supposedly better and the supposedly worse life are closely interlinked.

Kim Busch
International Programme 2016
Keep Frozen Hulda Rós Guðnadóttir

Workers are unloading frozen fish on the docks of Reykjavík – handling tons of freight on piecework. Melancholy images and a forklift ballet about a tough and dangerous job.

Keep Frozen

Documentary Film
Iceland
2016
67 minutes
subtitles: 
English

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Helga Rakel Rafnsdóttir
Hulda Rós Guðnadóttir
Joseph Marzolla, Prins Póló
Dennis Helm
Kristján Lodmfjörd
Hulda Rós Guðnadóttir, Helga Rakel Rafnsdóttir, Hinrik Þór Svavarsson
Huldar Freyr Arnarson
“Keep Frozen” read the boxes that are hauled out of huge trawlers, loaded on pallets and packaged for further transport by dockworkers in Reykjavík. And that’s the rub: they must be fast, super-fast, because the freight must remain frozen so we can fish it out of supermarket freezers for as little money as possible. This is also the reason why the men’s working conditions get crazier and crazier: the times allotted for unloading a ship are getting shorter and shorter, the boxes they move in double shifts, often in temperatures of minus 35° degrees, are getting heavier and heavier (most of them above the permitted 25 kilos). The job is tough, monotonous and very dangerous. Loads frequently fall from the ropes; workers lose limbs or their life. But with a lot of self-mockery the men see themselves as “real men” and work with the precision of a well-rehearsed choreography.

Hulda Rós Guðnadóttir who used to work on the docks as a child takes this up and expands the classical narration of the beauty and hardship of work by a forklift ballet. The film is part of a long-term large-scale art project in whose creation the workers were involved (and brought to Leipzig, too). Next time we reach into the freezer we’ll think of them.

Grit Lemke


Nominated for Healthy Workplaces Film Award
International Programme 2019
The Last Autumn Yrsa Roca Fannberg

From Úlfar’s farm on the edge of Iceland one will always see the ocean and many autumns to come, but never again a sheep drive. A “Heimatfilm” about the end of a world – wistful and visually defiant.

The Last Autumn

Documentary Film
Iceland
2019
78 minutes
subtitles: 
English

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Hanna Björk Valsdóttir, Yrsa Roca Fannberg
Yrsa Roca Fannberg
Gyða Valtýsdóttir
Carlos Vásquez Méndez
Federico Delpero Bejar
Yrsa Roca Fannberg, Elín Agla
Björn Viktorsson
Árneshreppur is the name of the rural Icelandic community to which the filmmaker Yrsa Roca Fannberg quite evidently lost her heart. Perhaps because here, on the northwestern edge of the island state, everything loses itself: the distinction between heaven, water and earth, the gaze, and humans anyway. At the beginning of 2019 Árneshreppur had forty inhabitants. When shooting started in 2016, there were a few more, for example the farmer Úlfar and his wife Oddný. But the couple had already decided to turn their backs on a beloved but brittle landscape, like all the others.

This film is notoriously late for any attempt to change their minds. But as a poetic survey of a disappearing reality of life in which every sequence shot, every black and white still is designed as a visual document of the last resort it is actually aimed at the later generations, who will know sheep only from the supermarket refrigerator. We follow Úlfar and Oddný through a busy autumn. He drives the tractor, recovers driftwood trunks and drives the sheep, together with the few remaining helpers. She prepares the meals. Every movement is practiced – and yet already a gesture of tidying up, almost as if they wanted to hand over this landscape which is increasingly empty of humans and sheep in an orderly manner. But to whom?

Sylvia Görke