Friday, September 25, 2015

Oh The Places You'll Go: Reminiscing Iceland's Transatlantic Talent Lab

Around this time last year I got on a plane out of Denver and landed in Iceland and didn't get back home until I had set foot in England, and had my eyes opened in Istanbul.

Sarah R. Lotfi

The Transatlantic Talent Lab (now titled the Reykjavik Talent Lab for 2015) was a melting pot of emerging filmmakers like me from around the world and we were both in our own sphere and at the center of RIFF (Reykjavik International Film Festival) at the same time.

Panels, parties, films, and special excursions made up a few whirlwind days on the Nordic island in the Atlantic Ocean. I was there to see my film Menschen screen in The Golden Egg Competition and enjoy the 'filmmaker lab experience'. We had a masterclass with RIFF's honorary filmmaker Mike Leigh who was there with Mr. Turner.

One of my favorite panels was given by journalists for Variety Magazine and The Hollywood Reporter on the future of film theory and analysis coming up against pressure from changes in the industry. The didactic was there for your own voice to ask and add to the discussion.

Another day we saw Reykjavik Visual Effects the post production house that was in the midst of working on Everest.   Saga Film took us on a day trip by bus all around the island giving us a location scouting tour in the mist and sleet to see the southern edge of the island. We stopped at a geyser featured in Interstellar and waterfalls and black beaches that had been used in Darren Aronofsky's Noah.

On the tour bus with Saga Film

Icy glacier that made up the alien atmosphere in Interstellar

Gorgeous ginormous waterfall used in Noah

There was even a party at the President's house, with all of us crowded in the reception hall shoulder to shoulder as the President of Iceland presented Mike Leigh with a Golden Puffin and made a joke about the tastiness of puffins versus the way other Nordic countries regard this notion as sacrilege since it is considered a holy bird there.

President of Iceland

So much about Icelandic culture capitalized on the puffin, vikings, and elves, but everyone was very 'velkomin' to us. I picked up 'tak' (aka thank you) and used it at every opportunity.

One special memory shared with fellow talent lab alumni was our trip to the Blue Lagoon. A man-made geothermal hot spring where the water was literally a lumiscent light blue. Though our time was short, we tried mud facials, saunas, and all around fun in the steaming waters.

By the end of our sojourn in Iceland I was making my way farther West to discover England and meet up with some family in Istanbul, but the life lessons and memories shared with my fellow peers in the Transatlantic Talent Lab are keepsakes in and of themselves and has left me hoping that our paths will cross again in the future. As RIFF kicks off again now I know there is another wave of talented filmmakers going through the panels and films and I wish them the very best in this fun and immersive talent development program.
The Blue Lagoon