CATEGORIES Drama, Foreign Language, Independent, Thrillers, Telluride, Toronto International Film Festival, Cinematical Indie, Toronto Film Festival, CinematicalReleased in its native Iceland last fall, Jar City has been drawing an increasing amount of acclaim as it screens its way around the globe. To begin with, the thriller smashed box office records at home, where it's been estimated that as many as one in three residents have seen it. Sure, only about 300,000 people live in Iceland, but that's still a mighty impressive figure. Jar City won five Eddas (Icelandic Film and Television Awards), as reported by Land & synir, including "Feature Film of the Year" and "Director of the Year."
Though it played at the European Film Market in February of this year, Jar City doesn't seem to have played any festivals until Karlovy Vary in July, where it won the Grand Prix competition. In advance of the ceremonies, Kim Voynar pointed to a prediction by David D'Arcy at GreenCine Daily that the film would be the likely winner; he described it as "a thriller about genetic codes and DNA determinism." The film trails a police detective investigating the death of an old man as well as a father's determined research to discover "the origins of a brain disease affecting his daughter."
Other critical reaction has also been positive. Boyd van Hoeij at european-films.net wrote: "At once wholly Icelandic and completely accessible for foreign audiences, [Jar City] reverberates with strong echoes of what it means to be Icelandic, what it means to be part of a family and what it means to be human." Todd Brown at Twitch says that it's "a stark and elegaic piece of work ... worlds away from the typical Hollywood murder mystery."
Jar City has just been announced for the Telluride Film Festival (though I neglected to include it in my story) and will also be playing at the Toronto fest. Check out the possibly NSFW trailer to get a feel for the atmosphere and mood. Director Baltasar Kormákur previously made The Sea and 101 Reykjavik; I'm a big fan of his work, so I'm crossing my fingers that a sharp, discerning, very savvy distributor will pick this up for North American release.