69th edition. October 18-26, 2024

Rúnar Rúnarsson: «I think it is important for creators to follow their hearts»

The Icelandic director presents Bergmál (Echo), a film that «shows life» through the languages ​​of fiction and documentary

Rúnar Rúnarsson

20/10/2019.- On Sunday, filmmaker Rúnar Rúnarsson presented his third feature film, Bergmál (Echo), in the 64th Seminci Official Section. The film is a collage made of 58 stories alternating between Iceland’s daily life and universal emotions with which the director has fulfilled his desire to embark on a project totally unlike his previous ones.

Bergmál (Echo), which will be released in Iceland in November and in other countries in December, stems from an old idea — weaving a story using small pieces of life. But the coming together of this project required for its director to take a step further. As Rúnarsson himself confessed during a press conference, he had to use a different format which moves away from the traditional Greek canon, solely focused on the narrative level.

«There are three different narrative levels in cinema — the story itself, the visual level, and the sound level, and filmmakers tend to focus on the narrative. Unfortunately, cinema relies less and less on those three brushes which draw up the story», explained the filmmaker, who put this down to the growing presence of co-productions, which usually resort to the story, «the common language».

This ignores the emotions in the subtext, which are mainly the ones he wanted to explore in his new feature film. With Bergmál (Echo), he finally moved away from classical structures and followed his heart. This decision led him to tread a less crowded path and, consequently, risk having trouble getting the funding he needed.

Christmas and reality, pillars of the story

The 58 stories lean on two pillars — Christmas and reality. As he explained, Christmas is a season in which human emotions are amplified, and «different behaviours are somewhat socially expected». Besides, Christmas helps the audience to connect with what they see onscreen. Reality is shown not only in the everyday-life topics addressed in each of the stories, but also in the use of fixed shots, which help the viewers grasp that reality.

«In cinema, we break time up, and the audience realizes it is a trick every time we do it. In this film, we alternate between fiction and documentary, and I use both languages ​​to show life, my views, my emotions». Something very similar happens with music, which is included as a prologue at the beginning and as an epilogue at the end in order to prevent the audience from detecting the «tricks» in its structure.

Rúnarsson is waiting for the audience’s reaction to Bergmál (Echo), which he knows may be one of disappointment if viewers expect to see something that looks like his previous work. Planning to let his heart guide him, the filmmaker is open to any project the future might hold: everything is possible, from video installations to sound experiments, except for television series.

«I have no idea what I’m going to do next — I always try to follow my heart. I didn’t know what I wanted to do before this movie either», he confessed before saying he hoped that Bergmál (Echo), competing for the Golden Spike at Seminci, «will arouse interest» and reflect contemporary life «for the Spanish audience too».


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