SPOTLIGHT: Asgeir Sigurdsson’s ‘Come To Harm’ Screens at Nordic International Film Festival

About the Nordic International Film Festival

Back in July we spoke with one of the founders and Creative Director of the Nordic International Film Festival in the United States, Linnea Larsdotter. The annual event is the largest Nordic film festival outside of Europe and is now in its 7th year, taking place 25th – 29th August 2021.

Talking about the line-up this year, Linnea stated:

It is looking a little different from previous years – we have a pretty strict rule that we don’t really keep account of the amount of titles we screen we just want to make sure that every title we do screen holds the quality that we want to stand by.

This year we have fewer titles than the previous years but I am so intrigued by the art that we have found and the array of films we are going to share. It is an exciting programme this year!

You can see the full incredible programme line up here!

Linnea at the the 5th Nordic International Film Festival – this year will be their 7th festival!

Some of the highlights we have spotted is the excellent short Play Schengen, Gabi Between Ages 8 and 13, and Persona Non Grata!

But along with these, we got introduced to Come To Harm , a drama film about a young boy going through a tough time, written, directed and starring young Icelander Ásgeir Sigurðsson.

About the Icelandic film ‘Come to Harm’

Come To Harm is a carefully structured film that throws its narrative out of place at times, which keeps you as the viewer on their toes to really figure where you are in the plot – the past or the present. There are many moments where the film drifts into the Icelandic landscape, whether it was tracking the roadside or countryside, beautifully sound tracked to the film’s score.

There are strong hints of our very own British ‘kitchen sink drama’ genre (a genre that shows the lives of ordinary working class people struggling to make ends meet). The genre is often a bleak one and Come To Harm certainly amplifies that, as our main protagonist Oliver sets out to find his younger brother after an incident sees him taken away as a child.

The film at times drifts into almost a dreamscape – a nightmarish one for our lead – as we are swept into the Icelandic night as Oliver tries desperately tries to save the day. There is much more of realistic approach to a scenarios encountered making the film feel a lot more accessible than most in this genre.

It is clear that this a cracking debut by a talented group of young adults – ready to take the Icelandic industry by storm.

Short interview with Asgeir Sigurdsson

The film is directed by two young Icelandic’s, Asgeir Sigurdsson and Anton Kristensen. Asgeir also wrote and stars in the film, so we got in touch with him to find out more:

Asgeir, where did the idea come from to write, direct and star in this piece?

AS: I have been writing since I was a teenager, mostly bad, bad scripts but that’s how I got to this point, by just keep going. I have experimented with acting since I was young but never really took it seriously until recently.

I saw a pattern in Icelandic and Nordic films that the acting was not true to life so that is something I wanted to deviate from and bring something new and exciting to the screen, a breath of fresh air. I wrote the script and the character of Oliver around myself because I knew that I had something to bring to the table with my acting, also budget-wise, it was the only thing that made sense.

Me and my long time friend Anton Kristensen have been making videos since we were young so it was destined that we would direct this movie together.

Did you have any influences going into making the film?

AS: Films have been my go-to comfort since I was young. Watching Kubrick when I was younger, it fascinated me that something could be projected from imagination onto screen for people to see.

After graduating High School, I thought about film school but felt I was comfortable enough with my vision that I could take that time and money to make my own film. I wrote it while working a part time-job when I was 19-20 years old and we shot it in October 2020 when I was 20 and Anton was 21 during the pandemic with a small crew of our friends and actors that believed in the project and our vision.

Watching Kubrick when I was younger, it fascinated me that something could be projected from imagination onto screen for people to see.

Recent films made by directors such as the Safdie Brothers and Denis Villeneuve have taken part in inspiring us, the high intense style of the Safdie’s and the grounded stories of Villeneuve, those are the stories we have been telling since we were young.

My friend Halldór Ísak produced the movie and came on board when we met after studying in the same school, same story with Elvar Birgir our producer and our crew. We all met through common interest.

Recent films made by directors such as the Safdie Brothers and Denis Villeneuve have taken part in inspiring us

What is your advice for filmmakers like yourself breaking into the industry?

AS: “The Industry” is a word to be careful of when beginning your film career. Most people starting out think their only option is writing a high-budget movie and pitching it to studios only to be turned down and letting their dreams die.

Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with pitching your idea to the big dogs, in fact I recommend it later on, but when you are starting out you are better off making a film on your own, and I can’t stress this enough. Only when you are ready.

You really only get one first impression so do take your time with it. The thing about film is that it’s art, and studios won’t see it that way, they want to know what sells. But do you know who will appreciate your film?

Asgeir’s top tips for aspiring film makers

AS: Your best option to gain a reputation is through film festivals, a reputation that you can then put on record to show the studios and distributors.

Do it on your own, you can do it and you don’t need much. I fully recommend reading Jim Cumming’s blog about making a film and distribution. It really is a step by step manual on how to gain success and we used it as a holy bible throughout our process.

Write a film around your friend that can act, or yourself or if you can’t, then learn how to act. Save up to buy a cheap 4k camera or shoot it on your phone, it doesn’t matter as long as the story can stand on itself.

The Nordic International Film Festival starts tonight (25th August) – screenings will be in person only and information can be found HERE

Feature by Alex Minnis

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