Icelander Ása Helga Hjörleifsdóttir has won the 2017 Kolkata International Film Festival Award for Best Director for her film The Swan, RÚV reports. The award comes with one of the highest cash prizes in the Indian festival, worth around ISK 3.3 million (USD 32,000/EUR 27,000).
The film is based on the award-winning novel by Guðbergur Bergsson, published in 1991. It was premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in Canada in September, and has since been shown at festivals worldwide. Its Icelandic premiere will be this coming January.
The Swan centres on nine-year-old Sól, who is sent to live with her aunt and uncle in the countryside for a summer. “What I’ve found most remarkable and fun to discover when I speak to viewers here and there around the world is how much the film seems to bright forth people’s subconscious thoughts,” Ása Helga stated. “People have come to me after and told me about something from their youth which they had long forgotten. Or how something in the movie awoke emotions that the person didn’t know they had buried. I find it so magical, how personal and unique the film can be for each person.”
The Swan is Ása Helga’s debut feature. She graduated with an MFA in film from Columbia University, and has previously directed two short films.