Summerlight, and Then Comes The Night director Elfar Adalsteins talks to Nordic Watchlist about his adaptation

Reykjavik Film Festival came to a close last weekend with a much anticipated Iceland feature, Summerlight and Then Comes The Night, based on a 2005 book by Jón Kalman Stefánsson.

The film is directed by Icelandic born director, screenwriter and producer Elfar Adalsteins, under his production company Berserk Films. It features an incredible Icelandic ensemble cast that includes the likes of Olafur Darri Olafasson, Sara Dögg Ásgeirsdóttir, Heida Reed, Þorsteinn Bachmann, to name just a few!

We spoke with the director about his decision to adapt the book and how the film came to be.

Nordic Watchlist: The film is an adaptation of the book by Jón Kalman Stefánsson – when did you discover the book and then decide that you wanted to adapt it?

Elfar Adalsteins: I read Summerlight first in 2010 and like an arrow, it hit me straight in the heart. I was born and raised in a small fishing village on the East coast of Iceland so I felt I knew this unique gallery of characters personally. The wonderful story world just came alive in my minds eye and I knew I had to try to get the rights to the novel, so masterfully written by Jón Kalman.

Nordic Watchlist: You have an incredible Icelandic ensemble cast in the film – how much fun was it to get to work with so many talented faces?

Elfar Adalsteins: It was magnificent to work with all these fine artists and I felt early on in rehearsals that the whole group was there under the same pretence; to collectively make a human story. They all poured their heart and soul into their characters, which was of course a joy to experience as a director.

Nordic Watchlist: Do you think fans of Olafur Darri Olafsson are quite ready for a couple of scenes with him? 

Elfar Adalsteins: Olafur Darri is a beautiful man through and through and I think the audience deserves to see all of him. He is a wonderful actor and very much in tune with himself. So, yes, absolutely!

Are fans of Darri ready for his performance?

Nordic Watchlist: The scenery is something that always comes to mind when watching anything from Iceland – where did you film Summerlight?

Elfar Adalsteins: We filmed it in a small seaside village on the West coast called Thingeyri. A beautiful town dramatically nestled under a towering mountain. 

Nordic Watchlist: With the film now having had its premiere at RIFF what are the plans for it next – might we expect an International release in the future?

Elfar Adalsteins: We will have our International release in November, but I think I’m still not allowed to tell you where and when.

Upcoming Icelandic star Atli Óskar Fjalarsson plays Davíð

Nordic Watchlist: What Icelandic films have you caught this year and recommend to others to look out for?

Elfar Adalsteins: I recently saw Svar við bréfi Helgu, by Ása Helga Hjörlefisdóttir, which is a beautifully made film that I highly recommend.

Elfar’s Icelandic movie recommendation!

Summerlight, and Then Comes Night has no UK release date yet – but you can get hold of the famous novel by Jón Kalman Stefánsson here

Interview by Alex Minnis

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