Of Horses and Men is a rural romance about the humanity in horses and the equine in humans. Love and death become intertwined, with major consequences. The fortunes of people in the countryside are seen through the eyes of horses.
Motivation of the adjudication committee
Of Horses and Men is a strikingly original film characterised by powerful visual language and an interwoven use of soundscape that gives the viewer a sense of, to quote Zola, “the beast in man”. The film depicts man’s eternal attempts to control nature and his pathetic failure in this endeavour – often with disastrous consequences. In this quirky love story about the relationship between humans and horses, director Benedikt Erlingsson masterfully transmits meanings and ideas through an admirable use of both animal and human characters. The animal’s gaze is the central point of view through which we observe the tragicomic behaviour of man. This gives Of Horses and Men not only a peculiar lyricism, but also a darkly comic tone, which makes the film distinctively Icelandic.
Director/Scripwriter – Benedikt Erlingsson
Born in 1969, Benedikt Erlingsson is one of Iceland’s most successful theatre directors of the last decade, having received numerous awards as a director, playwright and actor. He has also received wide acclaim for his work for television, such as the comedy series Blood Brothers (1999), for which he received Edda awards for Best Actor and Best Screenwriting. On the silver screen, he has appeared in several productions including Lars von Trier’s The Boss of it All. In 2008, he directed two short films: Thanks, which received the Jury Prize and Audience Award at the BE-Film Festival in New York, and The Nail, awarded a Special Mention in Clermont-Ferrand.
His debut feature Of Horses and Men is one of the most successful Icelandic films in recent years. The comedy has been sold to more than 30 countries (including the US) and has picked up nearly 20 international awards, including Best New Director in San Sebastian, Best Director in Tokyo and Best Nordic Film in Gothenburg. At home, the film was Iceland’s submission for the Academy Awards in the Best Foreign Language Film category, and picked up six Edda Awards, including Best Film and Best Director.
Producer – Friðrik Þór Friðriksson
Born in 1953, Friðrik Þór Friðriksson is one of Scandinavia’s most distinguished directors and producers, with a track record of over 30 feature films and several shorts and documentaries. He started his filmmaking career in the early 1980s, with a series of experimental films and documentaries. In 1987, he founded the Icelandic Film Corporation, which was for a time Iceland’s leading production company.
As a director, Friðriksson gained international recognition with his second feature Children of Nature (1992), which was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. Other works include Movie Days (1994), Cold Fever (1995), Devil’s Island (1997) and Angels of the Universe (2000), which was seen by half of Iceland’s population. His documentary A Mother’s Courage: Talking Back to Autism (also known as The Sunshine Boy) was narrated by Kate Winslet.
His most recent feature as a director/producer, the semi-autobiographical film Mamma Gógó, was Iceland’s submission to the Academy Awards 2011. Among Fridriksson’s upcoming projects as a director is the lesbian comedy drama Staying Alive and the documentary Horizon, about the late Icelandic painter Georg Guðni Hauksson.
Key production information
Original title: Hross í oss
Director: Benedikt Erlingsson
Writer: Benedikt Erlingsson
Producer: Friðrik Þór Friðriksson
Principal cast: Ingvar Eggert Sigurðsson, Charlotte Bøving, Steinn Ármann Magnússon, Helgi Björnsson
Production company: Hrossabrestur
Running time: 81 minutes
Domestic distribution: Sena
International sales: Film Sharks International
Kristín Jóhannesdóttir, Björn Ægir Norðfjörð & Auður Ava Ólafsdóttir