Cannes Exclusive: The screen adaptation of Nobel Laureate Halldór Laxness’s novel Independent People will be produced by RVK Studios in co-production with RUV.

The feature film and 6-8 part TV series to be directed and co-written by Baltasar Kormákur will be one of Iceland’s most ambitious productions to date, with a budget above €13m (1.5 billion ISK). “We are fortunate that RUV came in as a strong co-production partner. They commissioned eight episodes and by mutual agreement we decided to release the first two episodes as a feature film,” explained Kormákur to

“The scripts have not yet been written, but because of the enormous scope of the story and the fact that it’s a period piece, we anticipate this to be an expensive project. Our plan is to start the financing phase in the fall. We are fortunate to have access to numerous funds, so hopefully in the financing process we will find a suitable co-production partner.” 

Independent People will be shot in Icelandic language with Ingvar E. Sigurdsson in the title role. Filming will take place on locations and in Kormákur’s brand new film studios in Reykjavik. “We’re planning to build 6-8 major sets and of course hope to be able to do that at our new facility,” said the director of The Oath and Everest

First published in 1934, the epic novel Independent People is viewed as Halldor Laxness’ masterpiece that contributed to his 1955 Nobel Literature Prize; it is ranked among the New York Times’s 100 novels of all time. Set in Iceland in early 20th century, it tells the hard life of sheep farmer Bjartur of Summerhouses and his struggle for both independence and survival.

RVK Studios’ mega-project will be the first ever screen adaptation, as previous projects from Ingmar Bergman or James Ivory and Ismail Merchant never saw the light of day. 

Baltasar Kormákur said: “To make a film from Iceland’s most famous book has been a dream of mine for a long time. This story of hardship, stubbornness and broken dreams is universal and speaks to everyone, not only Icelanders.  What makes this monumental production even more interesting is that every Icelander will have an opinion on the final product, that´s how much this story means to us.“

Skarphéðinn Guðmundsson, RUV’s Head of TV/Director of Programming  said: “Having the opportunity of being associated as a major partner and co-producer of such an ambitious project means a lot to RUV and is indeed in full accordance with our new strategy, which is to put even more focus on TV drama in the future.”

Iceland’s pubcaster was co-producer of Kormákur’s hit crime show Trapped season 1, and is involved in season 2 set to start filming later this year, for a fall 2018 premiere.

Kormákur's next feature project to go into production is the English language survival film Adrift pre-sold in Cannes by  STX International.