Baltasar Kormákur, Ólafur Egill Egilsson Loosely based on Anton Chekhov’s play Ivanov
Agnes Johansen, Baltasar Kormákur (Blueeyes Productions)
Synopsis - White Night Wedding
The film, 'White Night Wedding' tells, the story of Jon, a university teacher who is trying to figure out his life and himself during one bright summer night in the island of Flatey, which lies in Breidafjordur in west Iceland. 'White Night Wedding', or 'Brudguminn' in Icelandic, is a dramedy about the joy of life and search for happiness, although with bittersweet undertones, for there is never light without some streaks of shadow.
About the film
This year’s biggest hit in Iceland so far with over 55,000 admissions, 'White Night Wedding' is a contemporary story loosely based on Anton Chekhov’s play 'Ivanov'. It was developed simultaneously for stage and screen, with the same cast of nine top Icelandic actors including Hilmir Snær Guðnason ('The Quiet Storm)', Margrét Vilhjálmsdóttir ('Thicker than Water'), and Ólafur Egil Egilsson, who co-wrote the script with Kormákur.
The actor/director who shares his time almost equally between theatre and film, had been thinking about adapting 'Ivanov' for many years, a play in which he saw a strong Icelandic connection, although it is set in Russia in the early 19th century. “Baltasar has always said that what he finds intriguing with Chekhov’s plays is the thin line between drama and farce, as well as the humanity of the characters who are just ordinary people with ordinary feelings and flaws“ says producer Agnes Johansen.
Under Kormákur and Egilsson’s pens, the play was turned into a romantic comedy set in contemporary Iceland. It’s the story of Jon, a middle-aged professor, about to get married for the second time to a woman half his age. When the guests start flocking to the island where the marriage is to be held, the groom starts getting cold feet. “The film is light, bright, a bit like a grown up '101, Reykjavik',” says Johansen. “It was also the right film to do for Baltasar after the darker 'A Little Trip to Heaven' and 'Jar City'.”
In Iceland where local comedies are a rarity and where Kormákur is a star, 'White Night Wedding' was an instant hit when it opened in January 2008. The film also strengthened the stage version at Reykjavik National Theatre, playing from Christmas 2007 to April 2008. “It’s the first time ever a Chekhov play was a box office hit in Iceland,” says Johansen.
Baltasar Kormakur - Director/Co-scriptwriter/Producer
Baltasar Kormákur was born in 1966 into an artistic family, of a Catalan father and an Icelandic mother. He graduated as an actor from Iceland’s National Academy of Fine Arts in 1990, and has since become a leading figure among Iceland’s actors of the new generation. He has worked at home and abroad with filmmakers such as Fridrik Thór Fridriksson ('Angels of the Universe)' and Hal Hartley ('No Such Thing'). As a stage director, he has put together more than a dozen plays from the classical repertoire or musicals such as 'Hair' and 'Rocky Horror Picture Show'.
His debut as a filmmaker/scriptwriter was in 2000 with '101 Reykjavik' starring Victoria Abril. The film became an international hit and won the Discovery of the Year Award in Toronto. The same year, Kormákur set up his own production company, Blueeyes Productions with his wife Lilja Palmadottir to concentrate on scriptwriting, directing and producing for film. In 2002 he directed 'The Sea', and was lured to Hollywood three years later to make 'A Little Trip to Heaven' starring Forest Whitaker.
Back on home turf in 2006, Kormákur gave Iceland its biggest local hit ever, 'Jar City' which won Best Film and Best Director at the 2006 Edda Awards (the annual film awards in Iceland) and was Iceland’s candidate for the Oscars. The film was sold around the world including in the US, the UK, and France.
This year, the versatile Kormákur has gone back to acting for fellow filmmaker Oskár Jonasson ('Remote Control') in the action-comedy 'Reykjavik-Rotterdam'. The film is currently in post-production. Kormákur immediately carried on with the shooting of his second English language feature film as a director. The action thriller 'Run for her Life' which started filming in the US mid-June, stars Dermot Mulroney and Diane Kruger. It is co-produced by Blueeyes Productions.
Since the creation of the Nordic Council Film Prize in 2005, Kormákur has each year been selected as Iceland’s candidate, the first year as producer of Silja Hauksdóttir’s 'Dís', in 2006 as producer/writer/director of 'A Little Trip to Heaven', and last year as producer/writer/director of 'Jar City'.
Ólafur Egilsson - Co-writer
Egilsson who graduated as an actor from Iceland’s University of Arts in 2002, is a multi-talented actor/director/costume designer and now scriptwriter, part of Iceland’s celebrated Vesturport Theatre group.
Equally versatile as a comic or dramatic actor, his roles include Mack the Knife and Mr.Peachum in two separate productions of 'The Three Penny Opera', Tybalt in Vesturport's acclaimed version of 'Romeo and Juliet', and Fagin in 'Oliver Twist'. Vesturport's acclaimed version of 'Romeo and Juliet', and Fagin in 'Oliver Twist'. He has directed several theatre productions of his own, such as 'Crowd Pleaser' by Jon Atli Jonasson, and 'Heart of a Dog' adapted from Bulgakov's short story. As an established costume and art designer for both theatre and film, he has worked on Hrafn Gunnlaugsson's 'Witchcraft' and the scenery for 'Grease' and 'Fame'. 'White Night Wedding' co-written with Baltasar Kormákur was his first script for the screen.
Agnes Johansen - Producer
A former TV host for children’s programmes, Johansen was appointed Director of Children’s Programming for the private broadcaster Channel 2 in 1991 until 1996. Between 1996 and 1997, she worked on a freelance basis on various projects in Poland and in the UK where she ended up as Head of Production for Saga Film.
She served as Iceland’s representative at Eurimages, and was involved in the development and promotion of various projects including Magnus Scheving’s 'Lazytown'. She met Baltasar Kormákur in 2001 and worked as line producer on 'The Sea'. She joined Blueeyes Productions in 2002. Her production or co-production credits for Blueeyes include Sólveig Anspach’s 'Stormy Weather', Silja Hauksdottir’s 'Dis', Kormákur’s 'A Little Trip to Heaven' (2005), 'Jar City', 'White Night Wedding', and 'Reykjavik-Rotterdam'. Johansen was Iceland’s Producer on the Move in 2004.