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Film Studies: National Cinemas

This guide highlights selected resources for various national cinemas.


The country’s earliest documented film screening took place in Reykjavik in 1903; and in 1906 the first purpose-built cinema was opened, inaugurating a continuing tradition of frequent and regular cinemagoing among Icelanders. Until relatively recently, local film production was confined in the main to shorts, newsreels and ‘topicals’, the first Icelandic sound film, Loftur Gudmundsson’s Milli fjalls og fjöru/Between Mountain and Shore, having been made as late as 1949. Until the 1970s, in fact, Icelandic feature film was essentially part of a larger body of Nordic cinema, with Icelandic directors undertaking their training, and then working, abroad: for example Gunmundur Kamban’s Borgslægtens Historie/The Story of the Borg Family (1920) and Det sovende Hus/Sleeping House (1926) were made in Denmark. Alternatively, Icelandic involvement in feature making tended to be part of cross-Nordic co-productions such as Den røde Kappe/The Red Mantle (Gabriel Axel, Iceland/Denmark/Sweden, 1967).  ...

Kuhn, A., & Westwell, G. (2020). Iceland, film in. In A Dictionary of Film Studies. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 31 May. 2021

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