Sixteen-year-old Ari is living with his mother in Reykjavik when suddenly he is sent to the remote West Fjords to live with his father. He finds that his relationship with his father has become difficult, and his childhood friends have changed. In these seemingly hopeless surroundings, Ari must rise to the occasion and find his own way.

Jury motivation: Sparrows is the coming-of-age story of teenaged Ari, whose life is turned upside down when his mother decides to move abroad with her husband. Ari has no choice but to leave Reykjavík for his childhood home in the Westfjords to live with his alcoholic father whom he hasn’t seen for several years. The film explores various coming-of-age themes, and in particular the father-son relationship from the perspective of an abandoned child. Ari’s interactions with women also come into play, and his relationship with childhood friend Lára is central to the narrative.

Director Rúnar Rúnarsson has developed a distinctive personal style based on meticulous observations of traditional Icelandic culture and aesthetics following the advent of modernity, often juxtaposed with complications related to the march of time. Sparrows underscores these themes in the conflict Ari experiences between his old and new lives, as well as in the demise of traditional values and the harsh trade-off that growth brings to the fore. Sophia Olsson’s stunning cinematography shows the isolation of the harsh mountainous landscapes of the Westfjords, while her vision emphasises the fjords’ ability to project a calm solace.

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

For full production notes and high res photos of director, producer and poster see Press kit. The information is available in the Nordic languages and English.