On 11 April, the Reykjavík-based gathering will host the presentations of nine new Icelandic film and TV productions, including upcoming works by Rúnar Rúnarsson and Ísold Uggadóttir.

The 2024 edition of Reykjavík-based Stockfish Film Festival will run from 4-14 April.

This year’s Work in Progress (WIP) presentations will take place during the gathering’s Industry Days on 11 April. The showcase, moderated by journalist Wendy Mitchell, will include nine new Icelandic film and TV productions.

The first WIP project in line is What Men Share, a documentary helmed by Janus Bragi Jakobsson and produced by Tinna Ottesen. In this project, four men share their lives online with an unseen audience. The picture promises to “observe the complexities of self-expression, connection, and the lingering question of whether digital presence brings meaning”.

Coming up next is Ísold Uggadóttir’s The Tower (Turninn) (Iceland/Germany), a non-fiction project made up of a 4x45 series and a 90-minute feature. It is being produced by Kristín Andrea Þórðardóttir and Hlynur Sigurdsson, and co-produced by Alex Tondowski for Tondowski Films. Billed as “a story of tragedy, scars and the seeking of justice”, it unfolds on the idyllic Landakot hill, which hosts one of the world’s smallest Catholic dioceses, which has been running a respectable Catholic school for over 100 years. In 2008, one of its teachers leapt from the school tower, falling to her brutal death on the school playground. A hidden tragedy was about to see the light of day. For nearly five decades, beginning in 1956, atrocious abuse of countless children was going on. The Tower zooms in on three of these children, now adults, as they tell their stories for the first time.

The third non-fiction project is Temporary Shelter by Anastasiia Bortual (Iceland/Ukraine), produced by Helgi Felixson and Titti Johnson. The doc is a story of displacement centred on Ukrainian migrants who fled the war to Iceland. Now they live in the small town of Ásbrú, and the former military bases have become their new temporary home. Throughout, viewers will witness “the birth of their new lives”.

The last WIP doc is Gagga Jónsdóttir’s Tight Lines, produced by Gaukur Úlfarsson, of Sagafilm. The feature follows the fishing house Nes, where a new generation of teenage female guides is getting ready to welcome experienced anglers and help them find and land big salmon, just like their forefathers have done for over a century.

Meanwhile, the first fiction feature project is Anorgasmia by Jón E. Gústafsson (Iceland/Canada/Czech Republic), produced by Karolina Lewicka and Jakub Rálek. Set in Iceland during a volcanic eruption that has grounded all flights, it revolves around a wannabe photographer and a PTSD sufferer who are forced to face their fears. They steal a car in the middle of the night and head into the highlands to be the first to get to the volcano. They never get there, but three days later their lives have changed, taking a new direction.

Rúnar Rúnarsson’s latest feature, titled When The Light Breaks (Ljósbrot) (Iceland/Netherlands/Croatia/France), is also among this year’s most anticipated WIP projects. Producers are Heather Millard and the director himself with Raymond van der Kaaij, Mike Downey, Igor A. Nola, Xenia Maingot and Sarah Chazelle. In the film, the life of young art student Una is turned upside down “from one sunset to another, when laughing turns into crying and beauty coexists with sorrow”.

The third fiction feature is Ásthildur Kjartansdóttir’s The Mountain (Fjallið) (Iceland/Sweden), staged by Anna G. Magnúsdóttir. It is described as “an emotional coming-of-age story about a family being tested by tragedy”. The lead characters are electrician Atli, who lives with his wife Maria, an avid stargazer, and their nineteen year old daughter Anna, a musician. The family leads their normal life until a tragic accident turns their lives upside down, forcing them to find a new path forward.

Finally, the two WIP series are Sævar Guðmundsson’s 8x50 Storm (Stormur) (produced by the helmer and Jóhannes Kr. Kristjánsson), and Konráð K. Þormar’s 8x20 Vörn (staged by Halldór Ísak).

The synopsis of Storm reads as follows: When a compassionate police chief and two dedicated doctors in Iceland are thrust into the frontline, leading the battle against the deadly Covid pandemic, they must unite to navigate their nation through the storm.” The project is “a gripping documentary series that provides a ‘microcosmic’ view of how a small nation in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean battled a virus that turned the world upside down”.

Finally, Vörn is a sports drama about a young football player dealing with the toxic culture of a major league team. Meanwhile, he faces the unexpected feelings of his closest opponent, which could cost him his career. These struggles begin to take a serious toll on his mental health.

On 27 March, one more WIP project, titled All Eyes on Me (Iceland/Canada), was added to the showcase. The feature, helmed and produced by Pascal Payant, follows a man who loses his family in an accident and travels through Iceland to pay respect at their burial site as he meets a young traveller who ran away from Poland. Speaking about his latest effort, Payant described his collaboration with actor and producer Gudmundur Thorvaldsson, as a "dynamic duo that has consistently delivered compelling cinematic experiences" whose "collective vision seeks to demonstrate that it is possible to create a feature film of exceptional quality and dramatic intensity with minimal resources." "This endeavour was brought to fruition through private funding, emphasizing our commitment to the art of filmmaking. Furthermore, the Iceland Film Fund recognised the project's merit, providing crucial support for post-production activities in the country", he added.

Backed by the Icelandic Film Centre, Stockfish’s WIP showcase provides “a platform for collaboration, feedback, and exposure that can lead to valuable connections”.

The 11 April event will be live-streamed and recorded for professionals unable to attend it on site.