We close the Festival with this quintessentially Icelandic comedy about one woman’s fight against a monopolistic co-op stifling the livelihoods of farmers in a remote valley near Reykjavik. Adroitly blending humour and injustice together with the lightest of touches, it’s a worthy successor to NZIFF18 audience favourite Woman at War.
This film is screening in select cinemas and venues across the country. See here for details.
It is predictably Nordic that a film portraying the struggle for justice against a mafia-like co-operative in a windblown Icelandic hamlet, where the elements have etched the passage of time into the handsome but weathered faces of both Inga and her husband Reynir much as the rugged terrain they call a farm, would be described as a comedy.
What’s more, the story kicks off with the unexpected death of Reynir as his truck rolls into a ravine – the catalyst for Inga’s grizzled yet fiercely entertaining crusade for the future of her fellow farmers in a remote valley in Iceland. Arndís Hrönn Egilsdóttir is tremendous as the grieving widow who suspects more was at play to her husband’s passing than the natural hardships of agricultural life. Uncovering a trail of bullying and anti-competitive behaviour by the farming co-op and its disarmingly corrupt CEO, she sets out to level the playing field – mansplaining and mudslinging be damned.
Somehow Grímur Hákonarson – director of the wryly observed Rams (NZIFF15) – manages with his deft touch and a heart as big as a tractor to find a tone that smoothly melds trademark Icelandic gruffness with a good dose of Erin Brockovich in gumboots. — Marten Rabarts
“In his deadpan 2015 feature Rams… Grímur Hákonarson breathed bittersweet life into a tale of feuding sheep-farming brothers facing a cull that risked destroying their ancestral stock and way of life. Here, he peels back another layer of dour Nordic culture, turning his attention to a woman finding her voice amid the often chilly silence of agrarian life, making her mark in a male-dominated industry… The County blends elements of heartfelt tragedy with absurdist comedy, conjuring a humanist portrait of life in which community and loneliness coexist in a landscape of contradictions – geographical, personal, and political… Carrying [the film] shoulder high, Egilsdóttir does a terrific job of embodying Inga’s gradual change from stoically suffering farm owner to unstoppable force of nature.” — Mark Kermode, The Guardian
About the Filmmaker
Grímur Hákonarson was born in Iceland and graduated from the Film and Television School of the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague. His second narrative feature, Rams, screened at NZIFF after winning the Prix Un Certain Regard at Cannes in 2015. Selected filmography: Little Moscow (2018), A Pure Heart (2012), Summerland (2010).