Rúnar Rúnarsson, a graduate of the National Film School of Denmark, premiered his feature debut "Volcano" at Cannes' Directors' Fortnight in 2011. Now the Icelandic director is releasing his second film, Sparrows, as part of the competition line-up at the San Sebastian Film Festival taking place in September.
"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.
"I think Rúnarsson touches on something that feels true to audiences all over the world," says Mikkel Jersin, the film's producer. "Even though the story takes place in the remote Westfjords, it portrays strong themes that most people can relate to – themes of father-son relationships, adolescence and love." Read interview with Mikkel Jersin At Nature's Mercy in Iceland
Young Ari is played by Atli Óskar Fjalarsson, his father by Ingvar E. Sigurðsson. The cast also includes Kristbjörg Kjeld, Björk Björnsdóttir and Croatian-born Hollywood actor Rade Šerbedžija ("Downton Abbey").
"Sparrows" is written by Rúnarsson, whose feature debut "Volcano" (2011) was warmly received at the Cannes Festival's distinguished side bar Directors' Fortnight. His short film "Last Farm" (2004) was nominated for an Oscar, while the director's two student films, "2Birds" (2008) and "Anna" (2009), took home multiple awards and were selected for the Cannes Festival.
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. Paris-based Versatile Films is handling international sales.
Sparrows. Photo: Sophia Olsson
At Nature's Mercy in Iceland – Mikkel Jersin talks about the shooting of "Sparrows" that was continuously beset by dramatic events.