Halla is a fifty-year-old independent woman. But behind the scenes of a quiet routine, she leads a double-life as a passionate environmental activist, secretly waging a one-woman-war on the local aluminium industry. As she plans her biggest and boldest sabotage operation yet, she receives an unexpected letter that changes everything. Her application to adopt a child has been accepted and a little girl is waiting for her in Ukraine. As Halla prepares to abandon her role as saboteur and saviour of the Icelandic highlands to fulfil her dream of becoming a mother, she decides to plot one final attack on the aluminium industry.
Nordic Jury's motivation:
In Woman at War, a big, pressing issue is channeled through a big, unrelenting personality. Halla, the vigilante working secretly to preserve the world’s eco-system, is played magnificently yet unfussily by Halldóra Geirharðsdóttir. When Halla feels a pull which is perhaps even stronger than her idealism, the pull towards having a family, her dilemma is handled deftly and without sentimentality. In fact, director Benedikt Erlingsson, working from a script he co-wrote with Ólafur Egilsson, is as bold as his protagonist. The jury appreciates how he confidently mixes action scenes and intimate moments with atmospheric Verfremdung, placing live musicians in his frames and having them be the interpreters of the moods and feelings of the characters. The result is an exhilarating film, as funny and free-spirited in its handling of geopolitical matters as of the private life of the 48 year old woman that is the unexpected action hero at its core. And the love which is at the centre of it all, for nature and for a lonely child, comes shining through.
Nordic Jury members: Per Juul Carlsen, Jaana Puskala, Hilmar Oddson, Inger Merete Hobbelstad, Kriatina Börjeson
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This work of art by Erlingsson and his team raises environmental issues to another level. From the very outset, the audience’s empathy towards the characters overwhelms its empathy towards the issue. Furthermore, the audience never fails to struggle to find empathy for each and every character in the story. The audience understands the characters’ actions and is delighted by excellent camera work, scriptwriting, and acting throughout, in addition to excellent directing and casting.
Halldóra Geirharðsdóttir makes an impression and calmly carries the film. The frames are excellent and every move of the camera is faultless.
Although the scriptwriters follow every formula of how to build a character, they also have the courage to take risks with their characters, elevating them beyond mere formulae. A special and vital element of the film is its music, whereby the musicians are the main character’s guardian angels throughout the film.
Woman at War is a strong and impressive film, making it a real joy to watch.
National Jury members: Hilmar Oddsson,, Börkur Gunnarsson, Helga Þórey Jónsdóttir