A strong-willed woman in her 60s has to face running her dairy farm on her own.
Interview with Writer/Director/Editor Brúsi Ólason
Congratulations! Why did you make your film?
Viktoría is a second-year film in the Columbia University film MFA program and so I had to make a film for school. Why I made this film, in particular, is because I was thinking a lot about my mom and the way her life on the farm, she and I grew up on, has changed drastically over the years. The house where she lives almost alone in today used to house around 20 people in the past. Back then there was a greater need for manual labor but now most of the work that was done by hand is done with machines. This along with the growing demand for high productivity of farming has left farmers like her who can not afford to buy more cows and a milking robot end up being slowly relegated to the past.
Imagine I’m a member of the audience. Why should I watch this film?
I think it is important to take a look at the past and our parents and grandparents way of life and way of thinking. The world that they grew up in is vastly different from ours and their perspective has no less value than our generations. Of course, we can disagree on political issues but that is not what I aim to explore with this film. Viktoría is more about the humanity and loneliness inherent in feeling like the world has left you behind. I hope it is a healthy dose of exploring something that might be outside of a lot of our audiences’ view.
How do personal and universal themes work in your film?
Personal themes are definitely presented through the lack of connection Viktoría has with the people in her life. She has in some ways made herself a recluse and does not know how to escape that situation. This lonely world is both because of her own stubborn tough demeanor and the fact that the world is changing. This particular kind of loneliness is something that I think is in many ways very universal. I also think there is a bigger story in the background of the film that there is such a strong emphasis on productivity in the modern world that farmers like Viktoría and my mom can not really compete. For instance, my mom knows each cow by name and understands their different personalities. I highly doubt that any of the factory dairy farms that have started appearing in Iceland have that kind of closeness with their animals. So I have felt that I have been addressing this constant need for growth that is plaguing the world in so many ways right now.
How have the script and film evolved over the course of their development?
It started as a very simple idea about a woman that has a broken mower and needs help fixing it. From that simple premise it somehow grew into all of these big ideas about loneliness, changing agriculture and the gap between past and present. I even think the mower plot is barely present in the current film because it's not what is important. The film, especially in editing, became about Viktoría's internal struggles with all of these things and I could not be happier with the outcome.
What type of feedback have you received so far?
The first thing everyone mentions is Ingrid Jónsdóttir's amazing performance and I have to say I completely agree. I had seen Ingrid in small roles in Icelandic film and television and always wanted to see more of her characters. I don't really use auditions when casting but rather sit down and talk about the script and the character with the actors I am interested in for each part. When we sat down with Ingrid we could already feel how she would bring Viktoría to life from that one conversation. I think her performance was perhaps the biggest factor in being able to focus so much on her internal struggles in the editing process.
Has the feedback surprised or challenged your point of view?
Not really, I think the politics of the film are very understated and not really what the audience engages with. I feel like people usually just want to talk about Viktoría's character and her inner life than all of the external conflicts presented in the film.
What are you looking to achieve by having your film more visible on www.wearemovingstories.com?
I want it to find a bigger audience. I feel like it tells a timely story in many ways and opens a window to the past that sadly not many people in my generation are exploring. I also hope that some of what I have said in this interview serves as a deeper insight into the film for those interested in reading my thoughts on it, even though I am a firm believer that author intent does not really matter. Whatever anyone sees in my films is theirs to discover and just as valid as any of my ramblings.
Who do you need to come on board (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists) to amplify this film’s message?
We do not have a distributor or a sales agent so either one of those would be very helpful. We are always interested in the film play at more festivals so festival directors who are interested in the film should hit us up. And finally we are happy to do more interviews about this and future projects.
Basically anyone who's interested in the film for any reason is welcome to reach out.
What type of impact and/or reception would you like this film to have?
I hope it leaves people feeling good but still thinking about if they really should be feeling so good and eventually maybe think more about how Viktoría ends up in the situation she is in the film.
What’s a key question that will help spark a debate or begin a conversation about this film?
I don't know. It could be something about what good we can take from our past? Or if all of this endless growth is really what we need? Or something as simple as do you call your mom enough?
Would you like to add anything else?
I want to briefly mention that this film kind of stems from all of the women that have worked on farms, sometimes even harder than the men, and have somehow never really gotten the recognition for their work. I wanted to bring out this strong female figure that has always been in my life since both my mother and grandmother have worked extremely hard for our farm their entire lives.
What other projects are the key creatives developing or working on now?
Right now Kári and I are developing our thesis film at Columbia. It is another rural story set in Iceland but this time it focuses on masculinity and its strengths and weaknesses. We are working on the script with Leticia Akel, a classmate of mine from Chile, and she brings in a view of masculinity that we simply do not have.
Also our American producer for Viktoría, MAGGIE BRIGGS is putting together a beautiful project about a truck driver in the south that is shooting while we will be at Clermont-Ferrand. She has an Indiegogo campaign that everyone should check out.
Interview: January 2019
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A strong-willed woman in her 60s has to face running her dairy farm on her own.
Director: Brúsi Ólason
Producer: Kári Úlfsson
Writer: Brúsi Ólason
About the writer, director and producer:
BRÚSI ÓLASON grew up on a farm just outside of the town Selfoss in the south of Iceland. He currently studies directing in the Film MFA program at Columbia University in New York. In his films, Brúsi explores themes such as relationships, communication and the unstoppable urge to connect with other human beings and how we fail or succeed to do so.
KÁRI ÚLFSSON is an Icelandic producer based in New York where he currently studies Creative Producing in the Film MFA program at Columbia University.
MAGGIE BRIGGS is an award-winning filmmaker originally hailing from the Blue Ridge Mountains of Asheville, North Carolina and currently based in New York City as she studies towards her MFA in Film at Columbia University focused in Creative Producing.
Key cast: Ingrid Jónsdóttir (Viktoría), Mirek Luczynski (Pawel), Þuríður Blær Jóhannsdóttir (Arna), Hjörtur Jóhann Jónsson (Bjarni)
Looking for: sales agents, journalists, distributors, film festival directors, buyers
Facebook: Brúsi Ólason
Where can I watch it next and in the coming month?
Clermont-Ferrand International Short Film Festival/France - February 2nd through the 9th.