The 17th edition of the Reykjavík International Film Festival will take place between September 24th and October 4th, 2020.

Iceland’s major annual film event, the main purpose of RIFF is to offer a wide selection of groundbreaking, independent cinema, and to highlight the work of young and emerging filmmakers, by presenting only first and second works in the Grand Prix competition category New Visions. The objective of the festival is to increase general interest in independent cinema, increase the level of cinematic literacy and enrich film culture in Iceland by offering different cross-platform programs.

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JIM JARMUSCH honorary recipient @RIFF
"My experience at the Reykjavik International Film Festival was fantastic. It is an unusual place (to say the least) and the people are gracious, respectful and also a little wild - a great combination in my opinion. I am very happy to have had this experience and to have met so many cool people interested in films, music, literature, elves and many mysteries of human nature"

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Our Program
Over the last few years, RIFF has screened approximately 100 feature films from roughly 40 countries annually. For your convenience, they are arranged in a number of different categories that have solidified over time.

New Visions (Grand Prix Competition) –In New Visions, up-and-coming directors present their first or second feature films and compete for our main prize, the Golden Puffin. These films challenge cinematic conventions and pave the way for tomorrow’s cinema.

Open Seas (Out of Competition) – Every year a few distinct films make the headlines on the festival circuit. These are exciting – and sometimes masterful – works, some by established filmmakers, others by newcomers. Here we have the cream of this past year’s crop.

A Different Tomorrow – Can we sustain our way of living indefinitely or must we change our lifestyles? Can our planet handle prolonged maltreatment? Do we behave ethically towards one another? The films in A Different Tomorrow shed light on environmental and humanitarian topics because, sometimes, the right film can change the world.

Documentaries –Our documentary program aims to educate and inform, but also to mediate knowledge in new and exciting ways. A great documentary ignites our imaginations and can have a profound impact on its viewer and society by presenting unexpected viewpoints or new information.

Icelandic Panorama – RIFF is the meeting point of Icelandic and international cinema. Icelandic Panorama presents new films that have strong Icelandic connections.

Masters and Honorary Guests – Art films are often auteur-driven projects by visionary individuals with extreme talent. In this section, we celebrate a few of these masters and screen their work.

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MILOS FORMAN honorary recipient @RIFF:
"People were telling me: "In Iceland you will feel as if you are on the moon". So I went there and discovered to Iceland the moon is boring. And to see movies there was really special. Thank you".
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Honorary Retrospective – This section offers a rare opportunity to see the classic films directed by each year’s recipient of the RIFF Honorary Award glint on the silver screen. Our guests of honor in 2019 ere Claire Denis, John Hawkes, and Katja Adomeit.

Country in Focus – Each year we shine a spotlight in a national cinema. Austria was in focus in our 2019 edition. Our country in focus for 2020 will be shortly revealed.

Horror Highlights & Arctic Chills –Horror movies and genre cinema have long since become a regular part of festival programming all over the world and now RIFF puts this genre into the spotlight. We emphasize on arctic chills mixed with horror from different parts of the world to exhibit the variety of horror in its bloodspitten glory.

International Shorts – A finely curated selection of brave, artistic and delicate voices. With urgency and determination, these talented filmmakers make us travel beyond the borders of reality, expanding the scope of our imagination, reinventing cinema within every frame, demonstrated in this section.

Special Events – Reykjavík International Film Festival, RIFF, is all about the experience, and while few things measure up to watching a good film at the movies, we feel that it is important to spice our program up with a few special events. Among Special Events are movies shown in unconventional venues such as pools and homes for the elderly, panels and RIFF Talks.

RIFF Around Town – We believe that films can change the world and we exert to reach out to those who can’t attend RIFF. We spread out and screen influential films at libraries, nursing homes and prisons to name a few locations. RIFF focuses on young filmmakers and progressive film productions. Films that touch people, educate and enlighten. It is our desired goal that most film-lovers can enjoy these films during the festival and therefore we have RIFF Around Town.

Honorary Guests Throughout the Years
Our guests throughout the years have included: Jim Jarmusch, Mike Leigh, Ruben Östlund, Milos Forman, Peter Greenaway, Costa Gavras, Hanna Schygulla, Béla Tarr, Aki Kaurismäki, Hal Hartley, Shirin Neshat, Susanne Bier, Atom Egoyan, Abbas Kiarostami, Dario Argento, Thomas Bangalter, Guy-Manuel de Homem Christo, James Marsh, Lone Scherfig, Marjane Satrapi, Aleksandr Sokurov, Andrea Arnold, Ulrich Thomsen, Ulrike Ottinger, Damo Suzuki, Darren Aronofsky, Deepa Mehta, Werner Herzog, Olivier Assayas, Valeska Grisebach, Jonas Mekas, Laila Pakalnina, Sergei Loznitsa, Mads Mikkelsen, John Hawkes, Claire Denis and Katja Adomeit.

Over the years we have screened many outstanding films by brave and artistic voices at RIFF. The ones that show artistic excellence and break barriers will win awards. The films in our New Visions section will compete for the most acclaimed award of the festival: The Golden Puffin, whose recipient will be named Discovery of the Year. An award will be also given the most outstanding film in the documentary competition section A Different Tomorrow. Short films from the participants in the Talent Lab will compete for the Golden Egg. And we also award the best of our national cinema with our Best Icelandic Short and the Best International Short in our International Shorts competitive section.

All submissions:

Must have been completed after January 1st, 2019.

Must be at minimum Icelandic premieres (i.e. must not have been screened publicly in Iceland prior to the 2020 festival, including a broadcast version of any length).

Must be in English, or subtitled in English.

Submission Fee

The price for submission is 7.600 ISK (about 55 EUR) but early submission price is 4.900 ISK (about 35 EUR). Early submission is open until March 6th. The fee is non-refundable.

Please note that submission fees contribute towards the administrative duties carried out by our festival team and previewing panel. These fees are essential to the sustainability of our festival and therefore we are unable to offer waivers.

Programming Consideration

RIFF will consider both international and Icelandic films, whether they are fiction films or documentaries, regardless of length or subject matter.

All submissions will be given full consideration by our programming team.

Programming Decisions

The Final decision on programming, categorization, and scheduling of films will be determined by the Festival programming team. Their decision is final (and not open to negotiation). Successful applicants will receive this information in their official invitation.

No screeners or application materials will be returned. Do not send film prints, master tapes or other originals.

If your film is selected, you will receive a more detailed form asking for promotional materials needed for our catalogue and website (delivering these on time and in the right format is 100% on you). We expect all submitted films to be free of screening fees.

You can expect your film to be screened 3-4 times during the festival and 4-5 times around the rural countryside of Iceland in the month following the end of RIFF in a separate program named ‘RIFF around the country’. The project aims to reach audiences that would otherwise not have a chance to see our program.

Selected Films
RIFF features three juried competition programs: the ‘New Visions’ category (fiction and documentary films), the ‘A Different Tomorrow’ category (documentaries) and the short film categories (‘Best Icelandic Short’, ‘Best International Short’, and the ‘Golden egg’ – which goes to the best short film at The Talent lab); and several other programs that are non-competitive.

Selected feature-length films in the ‘New Visions’ and ‘A Different Tomorrow’ categories, and short films at the ‘Short Film’ categories are eligible for jury prizes.

Travel & Accommodation
For officially selected films, RIFF wants to provide as much support as possible to filmmakers attending the Festival:

For feature-length films, RIFF will do its best to bring a representative to Reykjavík Iceland for each invited film.

For all selected films, RIFF will provide Festival accreditation for every credited director.

Preview Format

Online screeners are mandatory. Any number of titles may be submitted. However, each title must be submitted on a separate entry form and screener.