Iceland, Christmas time. As everyone prepares for the holidays, a peculiar atmosphere falls upon the country revealing emotions of both excitement and concern. In the middle of the countryside, an abandoned farm is burning. In a school, a children’s choir is singing Christmas carols. In a slaughterhouse, chickens are parading along a rail. In a museum, a mother is arguing with her ex-husband on the phone. In a living room, a young girl is making her grandmother try on her new virtual reality headset...
Through 56 scenes, Echo draws a biting and tender portrait of modern society.

The Nominees: Screenwriter/director/producer Rúnar Rúnarsson, producers Live Hide and Lilja Ósk Snorradóttir

National Jury's motivation: Rúnar Rúnarsson’s Echo is a compilation of concurrent micro-stories, framed within the time around Christmas and New Year’s Eve – a time which is both sensitive and ceremonial. A time when we reconsider our lives and a time when, more than usual, we miss the loved ones who can’t be with us. The stories have an open beginning and an open end; each story is a slice of life. 

Echo is about materialism and consumer society, togetherness and loneliness, love and violence, and life and death, which has its own timing. The religious and ceremonial is juxtaposed with the trivial and the mundane – as in life itself. Moreover, the film draws attention to more controversial matters such as the refugee crisis. Echo is a cutting, in-depth study of our society and its layers, and the storytelling can be described as poetic realism, an ode to our daily lives and its beauty and cruelty. Very Icelandic, yet universal. 

The script is full of beauty and poetry; each scene is one static shot, one beautifully composed and well-thought-out angle with strong film grammar and excellent filmmaking. The score is modest, yet impressive and moving.

National Jury: Hilmar Oddsson, Börkur Gunnarsson, Helga Þórey Jónsdóttir