Impact Day

October 7 | 10:00 - 15:00 | Ráðhús

Films have the potential to stimulate positive change in society through storytelling by reaching the right audiences. To support this promising potential RIFF has created Impact Day: a series of talks and pitches to bring attention to the power of film and to support filmmakers in finding new impact strategies and partners. 

The morning program is open to accreditated guests and festival pass holders. Or request an invitation by emailing 

The afternoon Backlash panel is open to all. 

09:30 | Doors open

10:00 | Start programme

10:00 - 11:15 | Stories with Impact


11:30 - 13:00 | Impact of the North: Pitching


13:30 - 15:00 | Backlash: What The F Is Going On?!

Stories with Impact

October 7 | 10:00 - 11:30 | Ráðhús

Recent years have seen an upsurge in “impact films”: films with the aim to foster positive social and environmental change through storytelling and filmmaking. Impact films strive to make a lasting impression by bringing about concrete change: whether the goal is to change minds, behaviours or structures, social documentaries have the power to be highly influential. For this panel we are joined by four filmmakers whose films, although on a variety of topics, all have one thing in common: to engage its audience with pressing social issues. We will discuss the ways filmmakers can strategise impact and stimulate change through filmmaking.

Moderated by: Jessica Edwards

Jessica Edwards is an impact strategist & executive producer with expertise bridging the worlds of film, television and non-profits. With a deep curiosity in the change-making properties of culture and storytelling, she is currently undertaking a Clore Fellowship in cultural leadership. Until very recently, she was the Director of Impact & Partnerships at Doc Society, helping to establish the Climate Story Fund, supporting and enabling a slate of over 25 projects maximise their creative and impact potential. Building on a 15 year background in producing documentaries and factual television, Jessica has also led strategic communications projects for prominent NGOs. Integrating this breadth of experience enabled her return to narrative storytelling with an invigorated perspective on its potential as the impact strategist on award winning films such as Unrest, He Named Me Malala and Ida’s Diary. She joined Doc Society in 2016 and led a number of key projects and strategic partnerships.


Born in St Petersburg, Russia, Lena Karbe is a Germany-based filmmaker. Having studied film internationally (École normale supérieure, University of Oxford and University of Television and Film in Munich), she founded her own production company KARBE FILM GmbH in 2018 with the focus on documentaries for national and international audiences, based in Munich. The mission of Karbe Film’s documentaries is to foster new perspectives and amplify voices and opinions outside the status quo. She has produced several feature films before starting to write and direct. Documentary series CHINESE DREAM that she co-directed with Tristan Coloma was shown at more than 30 festivals worldwide and was published on ARTE in Spring 2020. BLACK MAMBAS, her feature film debut as a writer/director, premiered at CPHox in Copenhagen in March 2022, where it won the F:ACT Award. BLACK MAMBAS is currently on the festival circuit. 

Black Mambas is screening as part of A Different Tomorrow.


A Peabody Award-winning filmmaker and four-time Canadian Screen Award nominee, Jason Loftus’ work spans documentary, VR, games, and animation. His feature directorial debut, the documentary Ask No Questions, premiered at Slamdance in 2020. His follow-up film, Eternal Spring (長春), premiered in March 2022 Thessaloniki Documentary Festival, winning both the “Peter Wintonick” Fischer Audience Award and the Greek Parliament’s Human Values Award. It then won both major audience prizes at Hot Docs and a dozen festival prizes through spring 2022. In August, Eternal Spring (長春) was named Canada’s entry for the Best International Film at the 2023 Oscars—the first animation, documentary, and Mandarin-language film to receive this honour.

Eternal Spring is screening as part of A Different Tomorrow.

Sylvie Van Brabant is a major Quebec director and producer. She has written and directed some of Quebec’s most notable documentaries, which primarily address critical social issues. She champions social, political, and artistic works that are relevant, eloquent, and poetic. She dares to tackle controversial issues and bring audiences films that explore deep cultural and social values. She has coproduced and directed several feature films with the National Film Board of Canada, including Earth Keepers: A Survival Guide for a Planet in Peril, produced with Peter Wintonick (Best Environmental Documentary, RIFF, 2010). Van Brabant is also an accomplished producer with over 40 documentaries under her belt, many of which have created change in Quebec society through their powerful social impact. She is the producer behind master documentarian Serge Giguère (Hot Docs Focus On, 2006, winner of the Governor General Award in Visual and Media Arts, 2008, winner of the highest award in cinema from the government of Quebec, The Albert Tessier Award, 2021).

Sylvie’s latest project When Sprakkars Rise Up is part of the Work In Progress selection. 

Susanne Regina Meures is a German/Swiss filmmaker, well known for making films about rebels and pioneers who dare to stand up against systemic political and social repression. She holds a Master in Photography and History of Art from The Courtauld Institute in London. She also holds a Master in Film from Zurich University of the Arts. With RAVING IRAN (2016) her first feature-length documentary, Susanne Regina Meures launched an international festival and box-office success. The film is a portrait about two Iranian Djs who rebel against the regime and escape. The documentary was screened at over 130 film festivals worldwide (including Berlinale, Hot Docs, IDFA…), won numerous awards and became a box office success. In 2020, SAUDI RUNAWAY premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. The film documents the escape of a young Saudi woman, using her own cell phone footage. At the European premiere at Berlinale, the film won the Audience Award. National Geographic / Disney Ltd acquired the world rights to the film. SAUDI RUNAWAY was nominated for the European Film Award and won the EUFA 2020. GIRL GANG is Susanne Regina Meures third feature-length documentary, which premiered in competition at CPHox and Hot Docs in 2022 and is now showing at festivals around the globe. The film is an intimate portrait about a 14-year-old influencer and her family and takes us backstage of the claustrophobic social media world. Susanne Regina Meures is a member of the Swiss Film Academy, the German Film Academy and the European Film Academy. 

Girl Gang is screening as part of A Different Tomorrow.

Impact of the North: Pitching

October 7 | 11:30 - 13:00 | Ráðhús

6 documentaries on environmental topics in production have been selection for the Impact of the North workshop: a 2 day program designed to support filmmakers to further develop their impact campaigns and connect them to potential partners. 

Join us for the pitching session to learn more about these powerful projects and their ideas about how to use their film to make a concrete change in the world. 

More information on Impact of the North and the selected projects can be found here

Moderated by: Jessica Edwards

Backlash: What The F Is Going On?!

October 7 | 13:30 - 15:00 | Ráðhús

2022 has been quite the ride so far. As we emerge from the pandemic, old and new issues scream for our attention. Some dream of a utopia: after the collective tragedy of Covid-19, a heightened consciousness leads the way to a better future. But how can we move forwards if we seem to be going backwards?

This panel focuses on the uncanny backlashes experienced recently in our community: the climate change neglect, the aggression towards the queer, the withdrawal of women’s reproductive rights, the continuing stigma around mental health issues and the shrinking space for civil society. Our speakers explore the connections between these phenomenons and ponder on what the future may hold.

Moderated by: Bogi Ágústsson 

Free event.


Bogi Ágústsson was born 6th of April 1952. He is married with three children and four grandchildren. He matriculated from Reykjavik Junior College (the oldest junior college in Iceland) to the University of Iceland. He studied History and Icelandic at the University of Iceland 1972-1977. He has been a reporter for RÚV-Television from January 1977. He was awarded the Edda Award for Best Television Personality in 2014, annually by the Icelandic Film and Television Academy.

Ambassador Lucie Samcová – Hall Allen represents the European Union (EU) in Iceland since 2020. In this capacity, she works on many of the challenges which will be discussed by the panel – such as climate change, security, human rights and democracy – and will provide an insight into how the EU is addressing them, including through its cooperation with Iceland. As a diplomat, Ambassador Samcová – Hall Allen has over seventeen years of experience in foreign policy having previously served at the EU Delegation to the United Nations in Geneva where she covered a broad multilateral agenda including migration, human rights, humanitarian and economic matters. In Brussels, she worked on the EU’s external migration policy; on EU-Turkey relations; advised the Chair of the EU Political and Security Committee; and helped conduct accession negotiations between the EU and several candidate countries. Since her appointment, her aim is to strengthen the already deep, friendly and wide-ranging relationship between the EU and Iceland and to foster co-operation in areas of mutual interest.

Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson served as President of Iceland for twenty years, 1996-2016; elected five times in nationwide elections. Previously, he was Minister of Finance, Member of Parliament, Member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, and the first Professor of Political Science at the University of Iceland. In the 1980s and early 1990s, he was the President of Parliamentarians for Global Action, an international organization of legislators. He now serves as Chairman of the Arctic Circle, which he founded in 2013 with various Arctic partners. The Arctic Circle Assembly held in Iceland every October has become the largest annual international gathering on the Arctic, attended by more than 2000 participants from 60 countries. The Arctic Circle also organizes specialized Forums in other countries; so far, in Asia, Europe, and North America. For decades, President Grímsson has been an active participant in the global climate dialogue and during his Presidency and in recent years initiated and promoted clean energy projects in Asia, Africa, the Middle East, Europe, the United States, and the Americas; especially using Icelandic achievements and technologies as a model. Cooperation with Sinopec has led to the largest geothermal projects in the world, building clean energy urban heating systems in a multitude of Chinese cities. He was the Chairman of a commission established by IRENA on the new geopolitics emerging from global renewable energy transformation. Grímsson served on the Advisory Board of Sustainable Energy for All, created by the United Nations and the World Bank. In addition to devoting his post-presidential efforts to the three areas of climate, the Arctic and clean energy, Grímsson is also involved in international cooperation on the oceans and the evolution of sustainable use of marine resources. President Grímsson has received many international awards, including the Nehru Award for International Understanding, presented to him by the President of India.



Dr. Eirikur Bergmann is Professor of Politics at Bifrost University in Iceland. Author of twelve academic books and numerous journal articles he writes mainly on Nationalism, Populism, Conspiracy Theories, European Integration, Icelandic Politics and on Participatory Democracy. Bergmann is also author of three novels published in Icelandic.

Héðinn Unnsteinsson is currently working as senior policy analyst in the Prime Minister’s (PM) office in Iceland focusing on, among other things, macro policy analysis and coordination of governmental policies and plans. Héðinn holds an M.Sc in International Policy Analysis from the University of Bath (2003). Héðinn started work within mental health in 1994. Héðinn was an entrepreneur in mental health promotion and user’s and careers empowerment and social inclusion in Iceland from ’94-‘01. Héðinn worked as a technical officer for the mental health programme of the World Health Organization at the European office in Copenhagen from 2003-2007, before entering the Icelandic ministry of health in 2007. Héðinn started work in the PM´s office in 2010. Héðinn took a two year leave and worked for a private consultancy company before reenterning the PM’ office again. Héðinn has lead coordinative work within the Icelandic ministries on policies and plans. Héðinn has been in numerous committees on governance, coordination of polices and plans, rural polices, mental health etc., as well as ministerial committees, f.exp. on public health. Over the last 25 years Héðinn has given over 900 talks on mental and public health worldwide.



My name is Ingileif Friðriksdóttir and I’m the CEO of the production company and creative agency Ketchup Productions. I’m also the founder of the LGBT+ educational platform Hinseginleikinn. Me and my wife have been going around the country for the past 6 years to do lectures in schools about the beauty of diversity. We also published a children’s book, Vertu þú (Be you), did a TV show and a podcast.

Sóley Tómasdóttir is a gender and diversity expert from Iceland, living in the Netherlands, who has been a leading change agent in Icelandic society for decades. She joined the political party the Women’s Alliance at the age of 11, was one of the founding members of the Feminist Association of Iceland in 2003 and has been involved in various formal and informal alliances focusing on gender equality and human rights. She served as a city councillor in Reykjavík for ten years, mainly focusing on gender and diversity. In that role she initiated many projects leading to awareness, safety and empowerment of girls, women and marginalised groups. Sóley quit traditional politics in 2016 and moved to the Netherlands where she obtained her MSc in Pedagogy, Gender and Diversity in 2018, focusing on change agents in the academic settings. Since then, she has been running Just Consulting, serving diverse organizations with training and advice on diversity and inclusion, both in Iceland and the Netherlands. Sóley bases her expertise on her personal experience a radical youth, adult conventional politics, and academic training.


Thorgerdur María Þorbjarnardóttir was chair of The Icelandic Youth Environmentalist Association and is now on the board of Landvernd, the Icelandic Environmental Association. She is raised in Egilstaðir and from a young age she has been passionate about nature and natural science. She studied geology at the University of Iceland and has a MPhil in Conservation Leadership from the University of Cambridge.  In her academic work she has acquired knowledge about nature and then combined it with her interest in communication and governance to advocate for nature. In primary school she experienced the construction of the biggest hydro power plant in Europe close to her hometown in Kárahnjúkar. Now she works and travels through the eastern highlands of Iceland during summers and passes the damn and reservoir frequently. She hopes she will never again have to see such destruction. Her aim is to do as much as she can to protect biological and geological diversity.



Sigríður Dögg Auðunsdóttir is the president of The Union of Icelandic Journalists and an award-winning journalist. She works as a presenter of Kastljós, the flagship current affairs news programme on the Icelandic National Broadcasting Service, RUV. She has a background in print journalism, specialising in in-depth current affairs stories and politics. Formerly she served as editor-in-chief of a weekly newspaper and as the deputy news editor at the largest newspaper in Iceland.