Reflections from Reykjavik

 Clouds over Reykjavik.

Icelandic hospitality and creativity are legendary. The 10th Reykjavik International Film Festival was a showcase for both as well as an impressive roster of films Icelandic and International.

In addition the festival included a mini-conference Earth 101 at which selected documentary filmmakers met with some of the finest minds in sociology and climate change. One particularly fascinating panel was “Climate Change and Cinema – Reaching Out to the World”. Three world-renowned scientists Michael Mann, Stefan Rahmstorf and Peter Sinclair succinctly helped explain the limitations of narrative films in showing the slow but inexorable advance of climate change. Documentaries like Stephen Smith and Julia Szucs’ Vanishing Point and Patrick Gambuti Jr’s Greedy Lying Bastards can help give realistic dimension to a problem so huge it is hard to convey accurately in a 90 minute blockbuster.

Two of the talented filmmakers at the Festival, Anne Aghion and Simon Brook, are old friends of 3 Generations’. They were each invited to screen their respective films My Neighbor, My Killer and Indian Summer, reflecting RIFF’s ecumenical approach to telling “the biggest story of our times”. From Rwanda to India, from genocide to fighting cancer with Ayurveda, well-told documentaries are a way to cross borders and inform us all on a global scale. It is no coincidence that a country in the arctic north would so ably embrace the looming threat of climate change and that its signature film festival would focus on this issue. I was impressed and honored to be there. There is much to learn and much to do. Check out Peter Sinclair’s blog and Michael Mann’s book The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars.