Introducing the Reykjavik International Film Festival

The Reykjavik International Film Festival (RIFF) takes place in Reykjavík this September, bringing together talent from across the globe. Over eleven days visitors and locals are treated to films that rival those shown in Venice, Toronto and Cannes.

Its’ signature ‘Golden Puffin’ award is chosen by an international jury and in recent years has gone to films from as far afield as Bosnia and Kazakhstan, making it an international festival of local familiarity. In Reykjavik you won’t find red carpets and vast auditoriums; in their place, independent cinemas, workshops and exhibitions. Past showings have taken place in swimming pools and a cave, and with a host of local participants, it’s not unusual for guests to attend screenings in the directors’ own homes. Rúnar Rúnarsson, the first Icelandic winner of the ‘Golden Puffin’, once described RIFF as being a bit like Glastonbury. “People come out of one film,” he says, “look at their programme and think: ‘What can I see next?”


Reykjavik FIlm FestivalRIFF’s ‘swim-in’ cinema


Founded in 2004, the festival was always intended to appeal to international stars, whilst ensuring attention remained on local talent. Dimitri Epides, previously a programme organiser for the Toronto and Montreal film festivals, was brought in for the 2005 event and was fundamental in bringing the festival to further-flung regions of the globe. That year’s ‘Lifetime Achievement Award’ went to the Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami and the ‘Golden Puffin’ to Romanian director Cristi Puiu. Cementing its democratic traditions, Epides also developed an ‘Audience Award’ and the wonderfully named ‘Golden Egg’ award for upcoming talent.


Reykjavik International Film Festival


Now in its fifteenth year, and covered by journalists from across the globe, the festival has the national/international balance sussed. This year they plan to show over a hundred feature-length films, short films and documentaries from native and foreign teams alike, with a ‘Focus On’ category that shines a light on a particular country or region (last year the Baltic nations).

Alongside the festival, the ‘Reykjavik Talent Lab’ will also return this year, with forty young starters given the chance to meet well-established producers and, following in the footsteps of Andrea Arnold, Lone Scherfig and Mads Mikkelsen, the festival will welcome award-winning French director Claire Denis as an honorary guest.

Follow the links if you’d like to enter your film, sign up for the talent lab or volunteer at the event…

We’ll have plenty more coverage of the RIFF soon. In the meantime, check out Reykjavik’s Secret Solstice festival round-up…