reason #1

Naturally heated cinemas

The Reykjavik International Film Festival is, just like Reykjavík city, small but brilliant. The city has it all despite its small size – deep cultural and literary history, a lively musical scene, groovy bars, all with short walking distances and friendly, safe surroundings. Likewise, RIFF is not the biggest festival in the world, but has a carefully curated selection of films and an intimate setting where it’s easy to meet fellow film-enthusiasts and run into the visiting film stars.

reason #2

Iceland looks like the Moon!

Iceland is a land of surreal beauty and bears a striking resemblance to the moon’s surface, making it a perfect training ground for astronauts. The rugged terrain, vast lava fields and dramatic volcanic formations mimic the desolate lunar landscape, allowing astronauts to simulate extraterrestrial missions and develop their skills for future space exploration. Not only has Iceland served as an essential location for NASA, but it’s surreal beauty has also attracted large science fiction, fantasy and adventure film projects. Numerous blockbuster movies and TV shows have been filmed in Iceland, such as James Bond, Prometheus, Interstellar and Game of Thrones.

reason #3

The Icelandic film industry is on the rise

The breathtakingly stunning landscape is not the only magnet for renowned filmmakers to use as a backdrop in films. It is also the professionalism of Icelandic film crews and the recently improved tax rebate, which now amounts to 35%, which make Iceland the perfect filmmaking destination.

The RIFF Industry Days focus on this, bringing together professionals from around the world to get to know the ins and outs of Icelandic film productions as well as providing a setting where Icelandic film industry professionals can acquaint themselves with the industry developments on the international stage.

reason #4

You could run into the President of Iceland

Iceland is a safe place, or at least the President thinks so. Due to the nation’s friendly and approachable culture you can basically go knock on his house door. You might also just run into him at the swimming pool or at the hot dog stand! 

Or you could participate in our Industry Days or Talent Lab – the president often participates in RIFF award ceremonies where he personally delivers awards to winners of our film categories! And you might be able to join us on a visit to the President’s house. 

This unique practice fosters a sense of camaraderie and accessibility between the country’s highest office and its citizens, showing Iceland’s welcoming and inclusive nature.

Reason #5

Experience a hell-raising volcanic eruption

In 2023, we’ve just had the third volcanic eruption in as many years. Not just that, but the eruptions have been within hiking distance from the freqeuented roads, earning them the title “tourist eruptions!”

Our festival is also a melting pot where raw talent meets established stars. At the RIFF Award Ceremony, new talent is discovered and the New Visions Competition is reserved for the first or second films of up-and-coming directors.

reason #6

Relax in the geothermal pools

It is important to look for more original and exciting ways to surprise the festival’s guests. You can for instance enjoy watching a film while soaking in a hot tub during the Special Events program at the RIFF festival, which includes Swim-in Cinema, Film Concerts, Drive-in Cinema, a Lava Cave and Ice Cave Cinema.

reason #7

Witness the Northern Lights

There is one other natural wonder that often mesmerises RIFF festival-goers… the Northern Lights. As the festival takes place in Reykjavík, which lies close to the Arctic Circle, lucky visitors may get a chance to witness this enchanting celestial display. The dancing hues of green, purple, and pink illuminating the dark Icelandic skies provide an unforgettable backdrop to the cinematic brilliance that RIFF has to offer. The combination of world-class cinema and the ethereal Northern Lights makes RIFF a truly magical and unforgettable experience for all who attend.

reason #8

Participate in growing the RIFF forest

Thousands of guests visit the festival every year. Last year RIFF started planting its own forest. Through forestry, the festival comes closer to balancing the carbon footprint it leaves behind. It is part of the Industry days to bring participants to Heidmörk and plant trees.

A Different Tomorrow, is a category devoted to films that raise awareness and aim to improve our lives and our planet. The films shed light on environmental and humanitarian topics because, sometimes, the right film can change the world.

#9 reason

It could change the way you see things

New Visions
Is intended for the first or second films of up-and-coming directors.
Open Seas (Out of competition)
Presents acclaimed films from many of the most talented and respected filmmakers in the world.
A Different Tomorrow (Competition)
Emphasises films that discuss the multiple problems faced by our species and look for solutions.
Aims to present the most interesting documentaries each year.
The Youth Program
Shows films and documentaries suitable for children and provides film-oriented entertainment, education and experience.
Icelandic Panorama
Showcases local films to the outside world, building a bridge between Icelandic cinema and international filmmaking. In this category we present some of the most interesting recent Icelandic features and shorts with some premieres.
Cinema Beats
Highlighting films that make music its protagonist, both in scripted and documentary form.
A delight of some of the very best current films in the animation form.

reason #10

RIFF - more than a film festival

Being a part of RIFF accomplishes a much broader purpose than helping deliver an amazing film festival. It also supports numerous other projects that contribute to the development and popularisation of cinematography in Iceland.

Some of which occur all year round, such as the Girls Film! project. Other projects take place outside of film theatres and venues dedicated to filmmakers and film industry professionals, such as RIFF Student TV and RIFF Cinema Bus.