The ninth incarnation of the Reykjavik International Film Festival brought with it roughly 100 feature-length films, dozens of shorts and a slew of special screenings and workshops. With the human experience of the linear nature of time being what it is you could only possibly attend 55 screenings, which would be around 10 hours of cinema time a day for the eleven day span of the festival.
We did our damnedest to cover as much of RIFF as possible and personally I managed 31 screenings and pulled two 10 hour days. The films ran the gamut of quality, with the cream eventually rising to the top. So, without further ado, we proudly present our completely subjective list of the Top Ten Films At RIFF ’12.
Remember to click the film’s titles for our full reviews.
1. Moon Man: Captivating, beautiful hand drawn art brings this wonderfully off the cuff tale to life, one of discovering purpose and the nature of friendship. It features a wacky world where anything seems possible and the unexpected is commonplace. A truly delightful little film that no one should miss.
2. Broken: A clever British drama that’ll have you swinging between tears and laughter. The terrific ensemble cast bring the delightful script to life through Rufus Norris’ lens, one that adds a new spin to proceedings with clever narrative techniques and simply fantastic overall direction.
3. Indie Game: The Movie: A movie about video games might seem inconsequential but with the video game industry becoming an entertainment juggernaut a look at the independent side of development is actually supremely interesting. What you get is a fantastically made documentary about interesting people who pour themselves into their projects with amazing passion.
4. Chasing Ice: Follows a man’s mission to provide clear, concise and irrefutable evidence that global warming is real and that it’s affecting the world around us at a shocking rate. The end result is a resounding success and hugely effective documentary that urges you to take action.
5. Whores’ Glory: This powerful look at prostitution gives an insight into how different prostitution is all over the world, that it can both be ugly and, er, not so ugly. It doesn’t judge and often just lets the images speak for themselves. It’s also incredibly stylish and gorgeous to look at and that alone would make it a cut above most docs, but there’s a lot more to it.
6. The World Before Her: Hugely effective and informative, giving an underrepresented look at the inner workings of grassroots Hindu nationalism and juxtaposing it with the Miss India beauty pageant. Brings into stark light the shockingly terrible place for women that India is and stands as a call for change.
7. Beasts of the Southern Wild: Won the festival’s top prize, The Golden Puffin. And rather deservedly so. The film offers a look at a dystopian, almost post-apocalyptic feeling in the United States via the medium of an immensely compelling father-daughter relationship. Beautiful cinematography, great storytelling and absolutely fantastic acting (from mainly non-professional actors) come together in a touching tale.
8. Marina Abramovic: The Artist is Present: A film about a piece of performance art may not sound very exciting but Marina Abramovic: The Artist is Present really makes you feel like you are there, experiencing the performance. It’s also a fascinating portrait of a really interesting artist, not to mention stylish and lovely to look at.
9. Eat Sleep Die: This is as realistic as cinema gets without being a documentary. This lovely Lukas Moodyson-ish debut film from director Gabriela Pichler takes a look at working class immigrants in a Swedish small town, with equal amounts of sadness, cruelty, warmth and joy. It also features a beautiful performance by lead actress Nermina Lukac.
10. The Shine of Day: This Austrian character study was one of the biggest surprises of RIFF 2012. A unique film that sneaks up on you and makes you think about the meaning of life, with winning performances from both its leads. It has a special atmosphere to it that’s hard to describe and is filled with lovely little moments, many of the “so weird it must be true” variety (as this movie is in fact largely based in reality).
List compiled by Atli and Sverrir.