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TIFF Programmer Steve Gravestock To Launch Book on Icelandic Film in Toronto


Next week, TIFF Senior International Programmer Steve Gravestock will launch A History of Icelandic Film — the first book-length history of Icelandic cinema in English in nearly two decades — in Toronto. Accompanied by a book signing, the launch will take place in partnership with the Cinema Studies Institute at 7pm on Tuesday, February 11 at Innis Town Hall, 2 Sussex Avenue. At 7:30pm, the launch will be followed by a free screening of the 2019 Icelandic film A White, White Day (Hvítur, Hvítur Dagur), directed by Hlynur Pálmason and starring Ingvar Sigurðsson (Jar City), whose performance won the Louis Roederer Foundation Rising Star Award at the Cannes Film Festival last year.

In A History of Icelandic Film, Gravestock traces the evolution of Icelandic cinema from its beginnings in the silent era to the present day, in addition to its influence from two of the country’s most powerful cultural forces: its uniquely vital literary tradition, and its robust independent music scene, which has birthed such global superstars as Björk and Sigur Rós.

“I’ve had the pleasure of watching Icelandic cinema develop since 1999, when I started programming the Nordic region at the Toronto International Film Festival,” said Gravestock. “Few cinemas are as interesting, and few cultures as fascinating. Charting the wide range of talents who have emerged in the last two decades, and exploring Icelandic cinema’s singular history, has been a very rewarding experience.”

Focusing primarily on the growth of feature-length fiction films that followed the birth of the Icelandic Film Fund in 1979, Gravestock also looks at such distinctively Icelandic genre-movie traditions as the Viking film, the folk comedy, and the “Nordic noir,” as well as the prevalence of the supernatural throughout the cinema as a whole.

“This year marks Steve’s 23rd as a programmer for the Toronto International Film Festival,” said TIFF Artistic Director and Co-Head Cameron Bailey. “A History of Icelandic Film is a testament to his unmatched expertise as a master of Nordic cinema, and TIFF congratulates Steve on the launch of this book.”

Gravestock has programmed for the Festival since 1997, and has written extensively on Nordic cinema. His previous publications include Don Owen: Notes on a Filmmaker and His Culture, and Geoff Pevere’s Toronto on Film, which Gravestock co-edited with Kate Lawrie Van de Ven.

A History of Icelandic Film by Steve Gravestock is published by TIFF, supported by the Icelandic Film Centre, and distributed by Wilfrid Laurier University Press. The book had its national launch in Winnipeg in 2019 and is now available at TIFF Shop. Also sold by Bakka-Phoenix Books. A White, White Day is provided by Game Theory Films.

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