Published in the 2014 January-March issue of Iceland Review & Atlantica – IR 01.15. Words by Mica Allen, Photo by Páll Stefánsson.
After studying at the Icelandic Academy of the Arts, Guðmundur Arnar Guðmundsson moved to Denmark, where he now lives, to study screenwriting. His talents recently secured him awards for two of his short films.
Hvalfjörður (2013) received a special mention in Madrid, Spain at the Festival de Cine de Alcalá de Henares (ALCINE) in November 2014 and his most recent film, Ártún (2014), was awarded the Grand Prix, the main award, at the Brest European Short Film Festival in France later the same month.
“Winning these awards is a great honor for all the team and it helps get support for the next project. It’s also nice to know that people understand what you’re trying to do,” Guðmundur tells me when I reach him by phone shortly after the announcement.
Both films feature boys at a pivotal stage in their lives as they go through various rites of passage.
What does Guðmundur consider makes a compelling story?
“For me it’s all about the character,” he says. “If you have an interesting character, even if it’s someone you don’t like, he will make your story. I work a lot from my own life and draw inspiration from that and then when I start writing, the characters transform into having their own life. The better you know a character the better you know the story as the character can actually take charge of the story himself,” he explains.
Partly inspired by a beautiful dream about a whale, the short film Hvalfjörður is set in a majestic and sparsely-populated Icelandic fjord in the western part of the country. With a small cast, the film is big in the issues it explores, the emotions exposed and the unspoken bond between two brothers; not to mention the brooding presence of the Icelandic weather.
Guðmundur’s more recent short film Ártún similarly portrays a young country boy’s journey across the chasm from adolescence into the more complicated world of adulthood.
Venturing into Reykjavík, it focuses on a boy’s pursuit of his first kiss amidst the mysterious world of girls and cigarettes.
Currently, Guðmundur is casting for his first feature film, Heartstone, a coming-of-age story where he continues to explore themes of friendship and adolescence.
The film centers on the friendship of two teenage boys in a small fishing village as they discover new feelings they never knew they had.
Plans for the film’s location are still in development. Guðmundur refers to it as “the most beautiful town in Iceland” but remains tight-lipped about the location’s name, as nothing is yet official.
What we can be certain of is that his next film is set to focus on life’s big issues on the journey from childhood to adulthood.
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