Profile: Baltasar Kormakur

Profile: Baltasar Kormakur

Name: Baltasar Kormakur

Born: 27 February 1966

Background: A graduate of Iceland’s National Academy of Fine Arts, Kormakur worked as both an actor and theatre director, before making his debut feature in 2000 with the slacker comedy 101 Reykjavik, which he wrote, starred in, produced and directed. The film was an international success.

What’s he up to now? Kormakur’s fourth feature, 2006 atmospheric detective thriller Jar City, has been released in the UK following its enormous success in Iceland. It is estimated that the film has been seen by one third of the 300,000 population. Earlier this month Kormakur’s newest film White Night Wedding, inspired by Chekhov’s Ivanov, premiered at the Toronto Film Festival. He is currently editing his US indie Run for Her Life, starring Dermot Mulroney and Diane Kruger.

What he says about having a domestic blockbuster: ‘To me Jar City is a character study of the Inspector Erlendur, who’s leading the murder investigation. It’s a very personal movie and it’s very Icelandic. What made it work with audiences was that I tried to make it as true as possible. Lots of old people went to see it: some of them got lost in the escalators in the malls, because they hadn’t been to the cinema for so long.’

What he says about the hidden Iceland: ‘I wanted in Jar City to show a part of Reykjavik that hasn’t changed and that isn’t visited by tourists. This is the Iceland of my youth, where the culture I showed in 101 Reykjavik doesn’t exist. It’s significant that the character of Erlendur has moved from the countryside to the city: that’s why we used long lenses to make it look as though the mountains are much closer to him than they are in reality. It reflects his state of mind.’
Interesting fact Aside from filmmaking Kormakur also breeds horses on his farm in Northern Iceland with his wife, who’s a professional horse-rider.

Jar City is at GFT, Glasgow and Cameo, Edinburgh now.