Just 60 kilometres north of Reykjavik, this month will see the western Icelandic town of Borgarnes host a cinema extravaganza.

This quaint town is getting ready for the second annual Borgarnes Film Freaks (BFF), a free film festival featuring 29 films from 16 countries.

See Also: The Story of Icelandic Cinema 

With a population of just over 3000 and no dedicated cinema, Borgarnes might seem like an unlikely choice for a film festival. However, the town has enjoyed a love affair with film for decades.

Cinema culture was first introduced to the townspeople in the 1940´s when the US army brought the first film projector there, transforming the the Oðal community centre into a makeshift cinema, complete with a box office every Sunday. This tradition remained a constant in Borgarnes until 2012.

2018 saw the first annual BFF, drawing in both local and foreign crowds. Thankfully, the festival sparked enough interest and traction for a return season.

A film festival program

The final program for 2019’s Borgarnes Film Freaks.

This year, the selection committee received over 1000 submissions from all over the world, spanning a vast array of film styles. Highlighted genres this year include; surrealism, personal stories, animation, political documentaries, horror films and technological dystopia (think Black Mirror).

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The festival will start on January 24 at the Settlement Centre in Borgarnes and continue till January 26. Daily film screenings will also be accompanied by several Q&A sessions with local and international filmmakers.

Admission is completely free and, as an added benefit, any audience members who make a donation or share social media posts about the festival will be rewarded with free popcorn.

A study in 2005 by the University of Essex in the UK commented on how the attendance of cinema has a positive effect on self-reported anxiety and depression. This is because it, “provides and environment in which to experience roles and emotions we might not otherwise be free to experience.

Taking this into account, the festival organisers have said that they intend to bring some warmth to Iceland’s darkest time of the year through good company and snacks, all the while celebrating the magic of cinema.

For more information, head to www.fluxusdesigntribe.com.