Desert Island DVDs: Sólveig Pálsdóttir

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Sólveig Pálsdóttir started writing only five years ago and she has experienced considerable success and acclaim in a relatively short space of time.  

She has an unusually diverse background. Sólveig is a trained actor and has performed in theatre, television and radio. She has a Bachelor‘s degree in literature from The University of Iceland and a degree in teaching. Sólveig taught Icelandic, drama and public speaking for many years and has produced many radio programmes and managed cultural events.

Her first novel Leikarinn (The Actor) was published in 2012 to rave reviews and  spent several weeks at the top of the best-sellers lists. It is now being developed into a motion picture. The second novel, Hinir Réttlátu (The Righteous Ones), was published the year after, and also became a best-seller. Both novels have now been published in Germany by publishing house Aufbau under their German titles Eiskaltes Gift and Tote Wale. Her third novel, Flekklaus (Spotless) was published in March 2015. She is currently working on her fourth.

Sólveig is married with three children and two grandchildren.

Choosing my 5 desert island DVDs was a difficult task. I enjoy watching good films and TV shows and there have been so many that have left their mark on me. It’s been especially fun watching the evolution of TV content that’s been taking place in the past few years, with new platforms like Netflix and Hulu encouraging better storytelling and attracting top quality performers to the format. But that means making this list is so much harder!”

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The Hunt (Denmark, 2012)

This cautionary tale is a powerful film with a strong message about rumours, mass hysteria and the concept of “innocent until proven guilty” A teacher in a small town in Denmark is accused of a terrible crime. Did he do it? Mads Mikkelsen keeps the audience guessing throughout. The film is a great reminder to stop and examine matters thoroughly before passing judgement, especially in this age of social media where it’s become disturbingly easy to point the finger in rage at any perceived slight.”

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Virgin Mountain (Iceland, 2015)

A film by Icelandic film director Dagur Kári. I’m also a huge fan of his first film, Noi the Albino, but Virgin Mountain, or Fúsi in Icelandic, really touched me. It’s so human, both in its writing and performances. The main character, Fúsi, is a bachelor that still lives with his mother. His life is turned around when he enrols in a line-dancing class and gets to know the little girl that’s just moved in downstairs. Fúsi realises that there might be more to life than his WWII models. Gunnar Jónsson who plays Fúsi manages to make the character, who in less capable hands might come off as slightly creepy, completely sympathetic and as Fúsi starts to find his purpose in life you can’t help but cheer for him.”

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The Shift Trilogy (Iceland, 2007-2009)

The Night Shift, The Day Shift and The Prison Shift are the three seasons of the best Icelandic sitcom in years, in my opinion. Each season takes place in a new location, a gas station, a hotel and a prison, but the characters stay the same. Former mayor of Reykjavík, Jón Gnarr’s character might have been the star of the show but it’s his sidekick Ólafur Ragnar, played by comedian Pétur Jóhann Sigfússon that is my favourite. The writing perfectly captures the realities of modern Iceland as well as its character’s unbreakable spirit in the face of, well, common sense.”

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Room (Canada, Ireland, UK, 2015)

I have to admit that when I first heard the subject matter of Room (not to be confused with The Room, called the worst film in history) I wasn’t very excited. A young girl is kidnapped and held captive in a room for years were she endures unspeakable horrors and gives birth to a son. Sounds too bleak for me. That’s why it was such a pleasant surprise to discover that the film is actually an uplifting exploration of hope, love and courage. Anchored by incredible performances from Oscar winner Brie Larson and wunderkind Jacob Tremblay the film is one of the most affecting I have seen in recent years.”

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Happy Valley (UK, 2014)

It’s always refreshing to see a strong, capable woman over 40 in a lead role and Sarah Lancashire is phenomenal as police sergeant Catherine Caewood who is dealing with a tough job while trying to survive a personal tragedy. It’s a fascinating character, and feels like a real, flawed human being. The plotting is also tight and exhilarating and every twist will leave you gasping in disbelief. Fantastic crime show with a superb lead.”

Thanks to Sólveig Pálsdóttir and Iceland Noir.

Iceland Noir booking information.

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