Veteran festivalgoers may remember Hilmar Oddsson from Iceland, a young man not yet thirty with blond hair, who presented his directorial debut (Sunday night to Monday night in Lapinsuu at 2.00 am…). Now, thirty-seven years later, we have the opportunity to see “mature Hilmar” – in the excellent drama-comedy Driving Mum.
Again, one cannot help but marvel at the ability of a small country to consistently produce films that, firstly, offer mature and often dark and/or absurd humour – and do it successfully. And secondly, how Icelandic films exploit the minimalistic milieus of its magnificent landscapes. Driving Mum is the tragicomic story of a dying mother and her now elderly son (mama’s boy) Jon, and as if in a road movie, their 1980 car trip together from the western parts of Iceland south to the village where she grew up.
This melancholic black-and-white film is ultimately about questions of existence, Jon’s past, and self-discovery. Accompanying him on the surreal journey is his faithful dog, Brezhnev.
HILMAR ODDSSON (b. 1957), son of playwright and theatre director Oddur Björnson, graduated from the University of Television and Film Munich in 1985. Of his seven feature film directions, the psychological thriller The Beast, Icelandic nominee for the Oscars, was screened in Sodankylä in 1986. Hilmar Oddsson is one of the most prominent figures in the Icelandic film industry, not only as a filmmaker but also as a teacher and the former Dean at The Icelandic Film School. He is also known as a musician and composer, including the band Melchior. “Films are like a band-aid. They don’t actually heal, but they can make us feel better by making us laugh and cry. That is one of the main tasks of art, generally, to make us face ourselves, for good or worse.”