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Volaða Land Directed by: Hlynur Pálmason
DK/IS/FR/SE 2022138' da/is

“It is easy to lose your mind there,” a bishop warns Lucas, a young Danish priest on his way to Iceland in the late 19th century. The desolation of an island where the sun never sets in the summer is both frightening and seductive. The missionary sets sail and is ready to lug heavy stones to build a church as well as wanting to capture the local people on photographic plates. Ragnar, a devout local man with a character hewn out of granite, becomes his companion – he knows how to read rivers, find meaning in boiling lava, and understands the wrath of God that penetrates to the bone. The more Lucas surrenders to the landscape, the further he drifts from his goal.

Icelandic visual artist and filmmaker Hlynur Pálmason (A White, White Day, 2019) is well-known to local audiences. His latest film is a work of hypnotic landscapism about the resolve and doom of faith. Nature is the film’s ever-present and independent protagonist, its grandiosity captured on 35mm film. Pálmason distorts the conclusions that can be drawn from Ingmar Bergman’s films on faith, yet allows us to catch glimpses of Max von Sydow in Ingvar Sigurdsson’s stubborn portrayal of Ragnar. The film, which screened in Un Certain Regard at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, is a visceral experience that envelops the viewer and does not let go.