Grímur Hákonarson landed on our radar with his last film, the heartfelt Un Certain Regard Cannes winner Rams. Four years later he’s now back with The County, which follows an Icelandic woman who rises up against her local co-op and the old ways of life in her small village. Described as David-and-Goliath story, we look forward to the specificity and splendor that Hákonarson will likely once again bring to screens in this chilly locale.
Ahead of an international premiere at TIFF starting this Friday, we’re pleased to debut an exclusive track from the soundtrack, from Icelandic composer Valgeir Sigurdsson. Titled “Burial Ground,” it’s an eerily beautiful, scene-setting piece of music.
“I wanted to make a film about an individual who stands up to change society,” the director recently said. “Then I had the idea of Inga, a strong woman, working in a modern farm, fighting a patriarchal society. In real life, I know a woman very similar to Inga. An outspoken and hard-worker farmer who drives the tractor and does a bit of everything. I was inspired by her.”
Check out the exclusive track below, along with the trailer, more images, and a poster for one of our most-anticipated TIFF premieres.
The co-op system in Iceland arose in the early 20th century as a response to Denmark’s centuries-old monopoly on trade; however, in many instances, these supposed mutual-aid societies grew to be as exploitative as the system that preceded them. In The County, Grímur Hákonarson — whose 2015 film Rams won the top prize in Cannes’ Un Certain Regard section — tells a powerful David-and-Goliath tale about an independent farmer whose defiance of her local co-op brings her face to face with its sinister underside.
Inga (Arndís Hrönn Egilsdóttir) has always questioned the slavish devotion of her husband, Reynir (Hinrik Ólafsson), to the co-op, even as the co-op’s debt has spiralled out of control and their prices remain much higher than those of their competition. When disaster strikes, Inga decides to openly take action against the co-op via social media. As her campaign progresses, she soon finds out just how low her adversary is willing to go.
As in Rams, Hákonarson illustrates how the harsh conditions that rural Icelanders face have bred an innate conservatism and a fealty to the status quo, which some hold true to even as it threatens their own well-being. Driven by Egilsdóttir’s gritty and moving performance (and featuring a fine turn from Rams star Sigurður Sigurjónsson as the co-op’s sleazy, self-assured director), and subtly directed by Hákonarson — one of the region’s finest filmmakers — The County brilliantly explores how Iceland’s cherished myth that all its citizens are equal can blind some of its hardiest and most independent people to their own exploitation. – TIFF synopsis
The County comes to TIFF 2019 starting this Friday.