Directed by Grímur Hákonarson
Iceland, Denmark | 2015 | 93 min | drama | Icelandic
In a secluded valley in Iceland, Gummi and Kiddi live side by side, tending to their sheep. Their ancestral sheep-stock is considered one of the country’s best and the two brothers are repeatedly awarded for their prized rams who carry an ancient lineage. Although they share the land and a way of life, Gummi and Kiddi have not spoken to each other in four decades.
When a lethal disease suddenly infects Kiddi’s sheep, the entire valley comes under threat. The authorities decide to cull all the animals in the area to contain the outbreak. This is a near death sentence for the farmers, whose sheep are their main source of income, and many abandon their land. But Gummi and Kiddi don’t give up so easily – and each brother tries to stave off the disaster in his own fashion: Kiddi by using his rifle and Gummi by using his wits. As the authorities close in the brothers will need to come together to save the special breed passed down for generations, and themselves, from extinction.
Cast & Crew
Director: Grímur Hákonarson
Screenplay: Grímur Hákonarson
Cinematography: Sturla Brandth Grøvlen
Editing: Kristján Loðmfjörð
Cast: Sigurður Sigurjónsson, Theodór Júlíusson, Charlottw Böving, Jón Benónýsson, Guðrún Sigurbjörnsdóttir, Sveinn Ólafur Gunnarsson, Jörundur Ragnarsson, Þorleifur Einarsson
Producers: Grímar Jónsson (Netop Films EHF.), Jacob Jarek (Profile Pictures), Ditte Milsted (Profile Pictures)
Festivals & Awards
Cannes Film Festival – Un Certain Regard
Camerimage – Silver Frog Main Competition – Sturla Brandth Grøvlen
Denver International Film Festival – Best Feature Film
Edda Awards – Best Film, Director of the Year, Actor of the Year – Sigurður Sigurjónsson, Supporting Actor of the Year – Theodór Júlíusson, Screenplay of the Year, Best Editing, Best Cinematography, Costume Design, Best Make Up, Best Sound, Best Set Design
Zurich Film Festival – Best International Feature Film
Hamptons International Film Festival – Golden Starfish Award
Ljubljana International Film Festival – Kingfisher Award
Thessaloniki Film Festival – Golden Alexander
Palic Film Festival – Golden Tower
Palm Springs International Film Festival – FIPRESCI Prize, Best Actor
Transilvania International Film Festival – Audience Award, Special Jury Award
Harpa Nordic Film Composers Award – Best Music
Valladolid International Film Festival – Golden Spike – Best Film, Pilar Miró Award – Best New Director
Tromsø International Film Festival – Audience Award
Brothers Manaki International Film Festival – Bona Dea Award in “New European Cinema” Program – Best Film
Golden Trailer Awards – Best Foreign Comedy Trailer, Best Foreign Comedy Trailer
Online Film Critics Society Awards – OFCS Award
Karlovy Vary International Film Festival
Toronto International Film Festival
Haifa International Film Festival
Busan International Film Festival
International Film Festival of Kerala
Sofia International Film Festival
Hong Kong International Film Festival
Beijing International Film Festival
A simply but skillfully told tale of the hardships of isolated rural life in Iceland even today.
Todd McCarthy, The Hollywood Reporter
Grimur Hakonarson mines moments of wonderfully wry comedy in this tale of sheep and men. As Hakonarson’s beautifully modulated film progresses, recurring images contrast and poignantly resonate with meaning. A sheep pen bustling with baa-ing livestock is later filled with dead animals; Gummi’s scooping up of Kiddi’s frozen body after a drunken binge finds a tragic rhyme in the film’s finale. Although some of the action is heart-rending, Hakonarson maintains a respectful tone of admirable restraint throughout. (…) Of course, the main reason the film registers so affectingly is the casting of two of Iceland’s best thesps. As the older, angrier brother, Juliusson (so good in the 2011 Directors’ Fortnight title “Volcano”) shows a range that makes one long to see him as King Lear. But the audience sympathies are carried by Sigurjonsson, through whose kindly eyes the story unfolds. (…) Fresh off his bravura one-shot lensing of the Berlinale competition title “Victoria,” d.p. Sturla Brandth Grovlen shows his mettle with striking, naturally lit widescreen cinematography. Perfectly paced cutting by Kristjan Lodmfjord allows the material to breathe, while gorgeous, melancholy music by Atli Ovarsson (“Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters”) soars at key moments.
Alissa Simon, Variety
The reconciliation of long-estranged brothers is hard won and tenderly felt in Rams (Hrutar), an accomplished, original work from Summerland (2010) director Grimur Hakonarson. Filled with wintry melancholy and captivating charm (…) Gummi’s scheme to ensure the survival of the flock has elements of Ealing comedy but it is the deadpan sensibility of a Kaurismaki or a Bent Hamer that percolates through the film in both visual gags and the general tone. (…) There is abundant skill in the performances with Sigurjonsson bringing the lightest of touches to his portrayal of Gummi as a decent, gentle soul whose inner life is revealed in the modest frown of his forehead, the heartbreak in his eyes at the death of his sheep or the generous hug he bestows on a prize ram. A lovely, lilting accordion score from Atli Orvarsson adds considerably to the film’s lugubrious charm.
Allan Hunter, Screendaily
Wonderful story about two men even more stubborn than the rams they are breeding, in a film that works, not with the head, but with its heart.
Yorgos Krassakopoulos, Flix (Greece)
A simple, effective and endearing film set in the very physical world of farmers by Icelandic director Grimur Hakonarson. (…) full of humour
and tenderness under its thick skin.
Fabien Lemercier, Cineuropa
(…) exceptional work, one that deftly navigates its emotional peaks and valleys to craft an artistic but entirely accessible work. The performances are raw and believable, the storyline unique yet feeling like an ancient parable. The film is at times delicate, at times brutal, but never succumbs to the tedium that often beset films that simply linger on the landscapes in lieu of actual accomplished storytelling.
It’s this finely honed balance that deserves to be celebrated in Rams. It’s an impressive accomplishment if only for how it makes something
that’s genuinely difficult look perfectly easy, providing audiences with a film that’s emotionally complex and moving and using the best of its storytelling elements and sublime environment to tell this lovely narrative.
Jason Gorber, Twitch Film