Sparrows – Iceland

Actionbild från Sparrows (Island) - Atli Óskar Fjalarsson
Photographer
Framegrab from the film
Sparrows is a story about growing up, and explores various coming-of-age themes – in particular the father-son relationship from the perspective of an abandoned child.

Sparrows is the coming-of-age story of teenaged Ari, whose life is turned upside down when his mother decides to move abroad with her husband. Ari has no choice but to leave Reykjavík for his childhood home in the Westfjords to live with his alcoholic father whom he hasn’t seen for several years. The film explores various coming-of-age themes, and in particular the father-son relationship from the perspective of an abandoned child. Ari’s interactions with women also come into play, and his relationship with childhood friend Lára is central to the narrative.

Director Rúnar Rúnarsson has developed a distinctive personal style based on meticulous observations of traditional Icelandic culture and aesthetics following the advent of modernity, often juxtaposed with complications related to the march of time. Sparrows underscores these themes in the conflict Ari experiences between his old and new lives, as well as in the demise of traditional values and the harsh trade-off that growth brings to the fore.

Synopsis

Sixteen-year-old Ari is living with his mother in Reykjavik when suddenly he is sent to the remote West Fjords to live with his father. He finds that his relationship with his father has become difficult, and his childhood friends have changed. In these seemingly hopeless surroundings, Ari must rise to the occasion and find his own way.

Motivation of the adjudication committee

Sparrows is the coming-of-age story of teenaged Ari, whose life is turned upside down when his mother decides to move abroad with her husband. Ari has no choice but to leave Reykjavík for his childhood home in the Westfjords to live with his alcoholic father whom he hasn’t seen for several years. The film explores various coming-of-age themes, and in particular the father-son relationship from the perspective of an abandoned child. Ari’s interactions with women also come into play, and his relationship with childhood friend Lára is central to the narrative.

Director Rúnar Rúnarsson has developed a distinctive personal style based on meticulous observations of traditional Icelandic culture and aesthetics following the advent of modernity, often juxtaposed with complications related to the march of time. Sparrows underscores these themes in the conflict Ari experiences between his old and new lives, as well as in the demise of traditional values and the harsh trade-off that growth brings to the fore.

Screenwriter / director – Rúnar Rúnarsson

Rúnar Rúnarsson (b. 1977) was born in Reykjavik and graduated from the National Film School of Denmark in 2009. He has won numerous awards for his three short films The Last Farm (Oscar nomination in 2006), Two Birds (Palme d’Or contender, Cannes 2008), and Anna (Directors’ Fortnight, Cannes 2009), his graduation film. His feature debut, Volcano, was screened at the Directors’ Fortnight 2011 and travelled to more than 30 world festivals, winning several awards along the way, including Best Actor (Theódór Júlíusson) in São Paulo and Best New Director (Silver Hugo) in Chicago.

Sparrows, his second feature, had its world premiere at Toronto in 2015, shortly after winning the Golden Shell Award for Best Film in San Sebastián, Spain. The film has won 17 international awards to date.

Producer – Mikkel Jersin

Mikkel Jersin (b. 1980) holds a BA in Business Communication and International Marketing from Copenhagen Business School. He graduated from the National Film School of Denmark in 2011, being headhunted shortly afterwards by Nimbus Film as a producer and international co-producer.

At Nimbus Film, Jersin co-produced several high-profile Scandinavian films, including Hotell by Lisa Langseth, Virgin Mountain by Dagur Kári (winner of the 2015 Nordic Council Film Prize), Louder Than Bombs by Joachim Trier (a Cannes competition entry in 2015), A Serious Game by Pernilla August, which premiered at the Berlinale Special Gala 2016, and the upcoming Framing Mum by Sara Johnsen.

Sparrows, produced by Jersin for Nimbus Film, is in the middle of its festival run and has already collected 17 international awards.  In 2015, Jersin joined Copenhagen-based Snowglobe, co-headed by Katrin Pors and Eva Jakobsen. His projects include new features by Amat Escalante, Joachim Trier, Omar Shargawi, Jonas Arnby, Kasper Gaardsøe, and Martin Skovbjerg. Jersin was a Producer on the Move at Cannes 2016.

Production information

Original title: Þrestir

Director: Rúnar Rúnarsson

Screenwriter: Rúnar Rúnarsson

Producer: Mikkel Jersin

Production company: Nimbus Film

Principal cast: Atli Óskar Fjalarsson, Ingvar Eggert Sigurðsson, Kristbjörg Kjeld

Running time: 99 minutes

Icelandic distribution: Sena

International distribution: Versatile Films

Jury members

Hilmar Oddsson, Börkur Gunnarsson, Helga Þórey Jónsdóttir