On Monday, local film enthusiasts Kinofolk hosted an alternative film at The Basement. This screening was the first of two for Heima, the documentary that tells the story of Sigur Ros’s homecoming tour of Iceland following their explosion onto the international music scene in 2006.
By Graeme Smith
To warm up the evening, a trio of short films preceded the main feature, each showcasing a little something of Iceland. A Wes Anderson-esque tutorial on hot-tubbing was followed by a visual short of striking Icelandic scenery. Finally, Sigur Ros’s music featured in a dramatic and haunting tale of death and rebirth starring Elle Fanning and John Hawkes.
The main feature started in under-stated fashion. Shots of Icelanders heading towards their town hall overlaid by soundbites of the band’s apprehension of playing to a home audience. ‘People in Iceland are very judgemental’ one of the band members confesses, which was demonstrated by the many shots of a crowd looking underwhelmed as the band plays. It brought a refreshing dose of realness to proceedings, and showed the project was never to boost the band’s own image.
The first concert starts and Sigur Ros’s signature epic style swells to dominate proceedings. In fact, the music in the film is completely consuming and pushes the visuals into secondary notice. However, this can hardly be a criticism of a film featuring musicians.
After some initial concert footage, the band play some introspective pieces in rustic locations. Though entertaining, it does detract a little from the idea sold that the band are putting on the tour, for free, as a gift back to their homeland audience. These discrepancies are few and far between during the narrative, and don’t detract too much from the key message of the film.
The traditions of Iceland are explored through Sigur Ros’ choices of venues and who they play with; whether they are joined by a brass band, a choir or set up in an abandoned fishery. It was interesting to see the diversities of their homeland. This theme was continued throughout till a sudden climax was reached at the festival in front of a huge audience. In true Sigur Ros style, the final number of the film features an impressively long build up, both aurally and visually before an explosion of sound and flashing images.
It’s always great to see something different, and kudos to Kinofolk for bringing these sorts of films to York. Heima returns to The Basement next Monday and it’s a must see, especially if you are a Sigur Ros fan.
Check out the trailer below:
The documentary Heima was played at The Basement on Monday 4 April 2016