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The Cinema of Iceland

Between Tradition and Liquid Modernity


Sebastian Jakub Konefał

The last decade was an exceptional period for the Icelandic cinema. The films produced during this time have won many prestigious awards at international festivals. Cinematic images of Iceland eclectically interlace myths, stereotypes and postmodern means of expression. At first glance, the local films obsessively repeat the same themes which might be incomprehensible for a foreign viewer. However, academic research on the most interesting motion pictures creates an opportunity to study the birth and development of small, but energetic and ambitious cinematography. Such an experience also allows analyzing problems related to the system of film production in this sparsely populated country and helps identify challenges during the process of introducing a local culture abroad. Finally, studying Icelandic cinema gives a chance to go on the audiovisual journey through the fascinating culture and unique landscapes.

The author of the book analyses popular topics and narrative strategies in Icelandic films. The research covers local versions of black comedies, road movies and crime stories as well as different figures connected with the motif of struggle between tradition and modernity.

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Many people supported me during six years of my academic researches on Icelandic cinema, published in this book. First of all, I would not be able to start and continue my studies without four scholarships from Norway Grants and EEA Grants founded by the Polish operator (Fundacja Rozwoju System Edukacji). I was professionally supported with the substantive guidance at the stage of applying for all these scholarships by such kind people as Joanna Pavlovych, Sylwia Iżyniec and Łukasz Sopyła, who worked for FRSE.

I am also profoundly grateful to the wonderful, helpful people I have met in Iceland. Professor Björn Norðfjörð was my academic tutor during my first and second stay at the University of Iceland (Háskóli Íslands). His valuable articles, book and PhD thesis served as guiding lights of knowledge for my studies on Icelandic cinema and culture. During all my visits to Iceland, I was also receiving films and other materials generously provided by Erlendur Sveinsson and Gunnþóra Halldórsdóttir from the National Film Archive of Iceland in Hafnarfjörður (Kvikmyndasafn Íslands) and Christof Wehmeier, Steven Meyers and Gunnar Egill Daníelsson from the Icelandic Film Centre.

This monograph would not be published without the financial support of the Vice-Rector for Research and Foreign Cooperation, Professor Piotr Stępnowski and the Dean of the Faculty of Languages dr. hab. Maciej Michalski. Extraordinary appreciation goes to prof. Gunnar Iversen from Carleton University in...

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