Halla is a fifty-year-old independent woman. But behind the scenes of a quiet routine, she leads a double-life as a passionate environmental activist, secretly waging a one-woman-war on the local aluminium industry. As she plans her biggest and boldest sabotage operation yet, she receives an unexpected letter that changes everything. Her application to adopt a child has been accepted and a little girl is waiting for her in Ukraine. As Halla prepares to abandon her role as saboteur and saviour of the Icelandic highlands to fulfil her dream of becoming a mother, she decides to plot one final attack on the aluminium industry.
Motivation of the adjudication committee
This work of art by Erlingsson and his team raises environmental issues to another level. From the very outset, the audience’s empathy towards the characters overwhelms its empathy towards the issue. Furthermore, the audience never fails to struggle to find empathy for each and every character in the story. The audience understands the characters’ actions and is delighted by excellent camera work, scriptwriting, and acting throughout,
in addition to excellent directing and casting. Halldóra Geirharðsdóttir makes an impression and calmly carries the film. The frames are excellent and every move of the camera is faultless.
Although the scriptwriters follow every formula of how to build a character, they also have the courage to take risks with their characters, elevating them beyond mere formulae. A special and vital element of the film is its music, whereby the musicians are the main character’s guardian angels throughout the film.
Woman at War is a strong and impressive film, making it a real joy to watch.
Screenwriter, director, producer – Benedikt Erlingsson
Benedikt Erlingsson (born 1969) is a director, writer, and actor. He is well known as a stage director, as well as for his roles in theatre, television series, and film. His solo performances are some of the most successful in the history of Icelandic theatre, and were performed on stage by Erlingsson himself for six years.
Of Horses and Men – Erlingsson’s first feature film as a writer and director – won more than 20 international awards including Best New Director at the 2013 San Sebastián IFF and the Nordic Council Film Prize in 2014.
Woman at War had its world premiere at the Critics’ Week at the Cannes Film Festival in 2018 where it won the SACD Award for Best Screenplay.
Erlingsson is a winner of the 2016 Gan Foundation for Cinema.
Screenwriter – Ólafur Egill Egilsson
Ólafur Egill Egilsson (born 1977) graduated as an actor from Iceland’s Academy of Fine Arts in 2002 and has since established his name as an accomplished writer and actor, working in film, television, and theatre.
He has received several accolades for his work, including Best Playwright in 2011 for People in the Basement adapted from Auður Jónsdóttir’s novel, Best Screenplay at the Austin Fantastic Film Festival in the US for the film Summerland (2010), which was co-written and directed by Grímur Hákonarson. Egilsson has collaborated several times with Iceland’s top director Baltasar Kormákur as co-writer of the films White Night Wedding (Nordic Council Film Prize nominee in 2008), The Oath (2016), and the internationally acclaimed television series Trapped.
In addition, Egilsson co-wrote the film Undercurrent (Brim), which was nominated for the Nordic Council Film Prize in 2011.
Woman at War, co-written with director Benedikt Erlingsson, had its world premiere at the Cannes Critics’ Week in 2018.
Producer – Marianne Slot
Marianne Slot (born 1968) is a French producer of Danish descent and managing director of the production company Slot Machine that she founded in 1993.
For over 25 years, she has supported and worked with many international film directors, including Lars von Trier (from 1996 with Breaking the Waves to 2018 with The House That Jack Built), and directors Lucrecia Martel, Bent Hamer, Małgorzata Szumowska, Thomas Vinterberg, Paz Encina, Lisandro Alonso, Albertina Carri, Susanne Bier, Emma Dante, Marian Crisan, Juliette Garcias, Yeşim Ustaoğlu, Sergei Loznitsa, Benedikt Erlingsson, and Naomi Kawase.
Slot received the prestigious French title Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres at the Cannes Film Festival in 2015. She is a member of the European Film Academy.
Producer – Carine Leblanc
Carine Leblanc has worked as a producer at Slot Machine, Paris since 2015.
A graduate of Université Laval (Quebec City, Canada), she has over 25 years of production experience for television and film. From AGAT Films & Cie / Ex Nihilo, for whom she worked for over a decade, to Télé Images, Gaumont, Pyramid, Cargo Films, she has been involved in all forms of artistic production (documentaries, feature films, animated films, games, commercials, magazine programmes, live recordings, concerts) alongside a wide variety of artists including Benedikt Erlingsson, Cédric Klapisch, Bertrand Blier, Marc Caro, Jean-Jacques Beineix, Nikos Papatákis, Denys Arcand, Sólveig Anspach, Paul Vecchiali, Robert Guédiguian, and Zbigniew Rybczyński. Having run Cargo Films (set up by filmmaker Jean-Jacques Beineix) for 17 years, she has now teamed up with Marianne Slot to promote and support projects by talented writers and directors.
Original title: Kona fer í stríð
Director: Benedikt Erlingsson
Screenwriters: Benedikt Erlingsson, Ólafur Egill Egilsson
Principal cast: Halldóra Geirharðsdóttir, Jóhann Sigurðarson
Producers: Marianne Slot, Benedikt Erlingsson, Carine Leblanc
Production companies: Gulldrengurinn, Slot Machine
Running time: 100 minutes
Icelandic distribution: Sena
International distribution: Beta Cinema