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This article was published 18/9/2009 (3676 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Reykjavík, ICELAND — It's not the centre of the film universe, but Iceland is trying to put itself on the map.
And going into its sixth year, the ten-day Reykjavík International Film Festival has even outlasted its original sponsor the Landsbankinn Bank, which collapsed last year along with Iceland's entire economy.
Besides premièring films by Icelandic directors, the festival shows films from this year's festival circuit including Cannes and the Toronto International Film Festival.
RIFF 2009 opened Thursday with Canadian Xavier Dolan's Oscar-buzzed I Killed my Mother or J'ai Tué Ma Mère.
A few months ago, the film and the 20-year-old Montreal director were virtually unknown. But after lapping up the Art Cinema award at Cannes along with a few others, the film is being screened by festivals like TIFF and RIFF.
The film — written, directed, starring and produced by Dolan — details the turbulent relationship between a gay 16-year-old, Hubert (Dolan), and his mother, Chantale (played by Anne Dorval). The plot builds through a series of deranged conflicts that find this mother and son incapable of living with or without one another.
As for where the idea to make a film about killing his mother came from, Dolan says he has been asked that one a lot during previous festival screenings.
"The whole thing is only fiction. I was inspired by everything that happens around me, along with being inspired by my mother," says the young director.
This being Dolan's first film, opening a festival is another first for him. A week before coming to Iceland, the film screened at the much bigger TIFF. Dolan is basking in recognition from all sides and says he has been inspired to continue his career as a director because of what a great experience this has all been.
The challenges of being the director, producer and actor did not pose a problem, Dolan says.
"I believe in control over art, so I think doing as much as possible is important," he said, adding, "Yes, I am a control freak."
Most important, Dolan has been making it clear that he loves his mother with all his heart.
The theatre was packed last night at RIFF for the première film. I Killed My Mother will compete with 14 other features for RIFF's Golden Puffin Award, the festival's top honour.
This year, the festival includes a program of more than 120 films from 40 countries.
Donna Tillotson is a freelance journalist from Toronto who is travelling through Iceland on her way to London. She writes about film and fashion.