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Small Mountain - what the critics say

A Roadmovie with its own character. Susanne Schutz, Die Rheinpfalz.

A typically mordant slice of Icelandic character comedy marbled with warm, inclusive moments ... Einar Thor Gunnlaugsson mines his island's rich sense of the ridiculous to milder effect than some of its forebears, but has a quietly kooky charm ... Derek Elley, Variety.

Yet beneath the feelgood exterior is a darker heart. Albert's brooding anger threatens to overspill into violence and sexual aggression, but it's the unjust destruction of innocence depicted in a chick wrapped in a bag and thrown to its death and a stricken lamb that lingers in the memory ... every detail looks enticingly stunning. Ben Hopkins, Icelandonscreen.

The thing is that Einar Thor Gunnlaugsson approaches his subject differently than most other Icelandic directors ... The director skillfully creates an atmosphere, emotions and a story, and continues to develop the art of filmmaking in the country, with fresh approach, courage and stimulates us to reflect. Sigurður Sverrir Palsson's photography gives the film wings. O.Torfason, National Radio 2.

The film becomes both a story of father and son but also a remarkable moving portrait of the countryside people. This is a film that keeps a low profile but is a better and truer profile of Iceland than many of the domestic "big movies" which are most visible. And for the Icelandic filmmaking to flourish we need many films like Small Mountain. A simple story told in a sincere but an amusing way, unpretentious and personal. I.Jokulsson, 24Hours, National Newspaper.

A nicely observed idea which works on many levels of the story. When I say the film is harmless then I mean that it underscores the light humor. For example is Gisli Petur solemn through out but you always know he is a good guy. So the confrontation between him and Emil is quite funny. There the scriptwriter manages to reveal a certain generation's fright of showing emotions ... a special charm. Anna S. Morgunbladid, National Newspaper.

Johann Sigurdarson holds your attention every second he is in sight. J.V.Jonsson DV, National Newspaper.

Small Mountain is a highly appealing blend of stunning Icelandic locations, great characters, quirky comedy, with an undertone of sadness and menace. Haugesund Film Festival.

Emil is asked to take the ballot box to the local airport, but he misses the plane.

Emil is a nice guy, he is helpful to his friends and neighbors, happy to make a detour to pick up cookies or fix a smoke detector, but he is not so good at communicating with the most important people in his life. Today he is not expecting his son to show up, but is suddenly brought to face his family and his community after he finds himself stuck upon the small mountain. This will be a day to remember.

A slice of life road movie set against the rugged landscape of Iceland. Inspired by the story of Abraham and Isaac.

Original title: Heiðin (aka Small Mountain)

Genre: Dramedy

Writer/director: Einar Thor

DoP: Sigurður Sverrir Palsson

Editors: Einar Thor, Sigurbjorg Jonsdottir

Music: Danny Chang, (composer). Mum, Hafdis Huld

Running time: 96 min.

Format and ratio: 35 mm, 1:85 (25 fps)

Sound: Dolby SR

Original language: Icelandic

Subtitles: English on 35 mm. English, German, French on digital

Release: 2008

Producers: Einar Thor (exec), Danny Chang (co)

An Iceland/UK co-production, backed by The Icelandic Film Centre

Cast: Johann Sigurðarson, Gisli Petur Hinriksson, Olafur S.K. Thorvaldz, Isgerður Elfa Gunnarsdottir, Guðrun Gisladottir, Gunnar Eyjolfsson, Jon Sigurbjornsson, Solveig Arnarsdottir, Birna Hafstein, Snorri Hergill Kristjansson.

Festivals and programs: Haugesund, Norway. Mannheim-Heidelberg, Germany. Tallinn, Estonia. Shanghai, China (Asia premier). Terni, Italy. Kulturhus, Berlin. Minnesota, Minneapolis and Scandinavia House, New York, US. Delhi (IIWFF), India.

Small Mountain on youtube - and on IFC database - Music example here

Download a short interview here - From German media here

Few words about the film

Lesid ahugavert vidtal vid leikstjora Heidarinnar her og doma a islensku.

 

 

Strong reaction has been seen on the internet from some Icelandic cinema goers to a scene including a slaughtering of a lamb where the film is condemned for 'sacrificing a lamb for a movie'. As stated at the end credit no animals were harmed but this particular scene was shot under guidance of a veterinary and with written approval from appropriate authorities on how the animals were handled. Emotional reaction to the scene is understandable.