Sparrows wins San Sebastian top prize

AWARD. Rúnar Rúnarsson's "Sparrows" wins the Golden Shell for Best Film at the San Sebastian Film Festival's closing gala on 26 September.

Nimbus Film and Rúnar Rúnarsson's "Sparrows" was awarded the Golden Shell for Best Film as the San Sebastian Film Festival drew to a close with Saturday's final gala ceremony.

"Sparrows" is a drama about Ari, 16, who has been living with his mother in Reykjavik and is suddenly sent back to the remote Westfjords to live with his father Gunnar. Here he has to navigate a difficult relationship with his father, and he finds his childhood friends changed. In these hopeless and declining surroundings, Ari has to step up and find his way.

Read interview with Rúnar Rúnarsson: Reality is a Grayscale

Producer Mikkel Jersin comments on the award:

"I think it's simply impossible not to be deeply moved by the story. It is poetic realism that gets into your soul. 'Sparrows' takes place at the world's end in Northwest Iceland in a little melancholy microcosm of a fishing village where the sun never sets in the summer and time stands still. For us this was the perfect setting for a film about life's crossroads. We wanted to tell a story from a part of the world that you would otherwise never get to experience. It's been crazy hard and complicated to carry out this production, but we succeeded and I think this award proves it."

Read interview with Mikkel Jersin: At Nature's Mercy in Iceland

"Sparrows" attracted positive attention at its world premiere at the recent Toronto Film Festival. "Sad and delicate coming of age story," wrote Screen, "lifted well above the teen drama genre by its solid directing," "spectacular surroundings," "steely palette and carefully calibrated performances."

"Sparrows" is Rúnar Rúnarsson's second feature film. The Icelandic director is a graduate of the National Film School of Denmark and premiered his feature debut "Volcano" at Cannes' Directors' Fortnight in 2011.

The crew behind the camera includes editor Jacob Schulsinger and cinematographer Sophia Olsson, and producer is Mikkel Jersin for Nimbus Film and Nimbus Iceland, in a co-production partnership with Pegasus Pictures and MP Films. "Sparrows" is supported by the Danish Film Institute, the Icelandic Film Center, the Croatian Audiovisual Center, Nordisk Film & TV Fund, the Icelandic Ministry of Industries and Innovation, Sena, RUV, TV 2 and SF. Versatile Films is handling international sales.

San Sebastian Film Festival / 18-26 September