The Reykjavík International Film Festival (RIFF) is held every year in Reykjavik and takes place over 11 days in September. The festival was first held in 2004, organized by a small group of locals who loved or worked in film. By the next year, attendance reached 13,000 and then soared to 20,000 by 2007. It may not seem like a huge number, but consider that it represented about 7% of the country’s entire population at the time.
What sets the Reykjavik International Film Festival apart from festivals held around the world is not the glamorous stars who attend (there are some) but the special awards and events that include talented filmmakers of all genres, ages and experience levels.
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A New Visions award is given to a director for his or her first or second feature-length film. The recipient of the Discovery of the Year award is decided by an international jury, but the audience can also vote for their overall favorite film of the event. Lifetime achievement awards are given out alongside those reserved for directors 25 years old or younger, and there’s even an award category for schoolchildren.
In addition to the more than 100 film screenings – which take place in both theaters and more unusual spaces like swimming pools, private homes and open fields – there are seminars, Q&A sessions and workshops. All screenings are included in the ticket price of 9,200 ISK (about $75 US) though some special events cost extra.
- Katie Hammel