Iceland, France, Norway


A family drama,THE SEA is set in a remote fishing village in Iceland. Fish is what life is all about and the worldly wealth that harvesting the sea can create. Thordur, the ageing father in the family at the centre of the story has a lifetime's fishing behind him and has therefore been allocated a large, valuable fishing quota. The small-town "king" and domestic tyrant he doesn't have any intentions of letting go of what he think he has rightfully earned. He's already made future plans for his three children within the family business. They however, have different plans and are and try all they can to persuade Thordur to sell the quota to the highest bidder, even if this could mean the closure of the largest workplace in the village and the collapse of the community in its present form. Realizing this, raging Thordur plots a new scheme and starts his final battle - against his own family. He would rather give this valuable asset away to his worst enemy in the village than give his children the chance to ruin his life's work. He gathers the whole family together in his home by the sea and starts his game. But his unexpected game is a dangerous one; a play with fire.

Director's Statement

One of the big, controversial issues in Iceland is the radical change in the official fishing policies set some years ago which brought great trauma and confusion within the smaller villages alt around the Icelandic coast and immensity disturbed the infra-structure of the Icelandic society. One by one the fishing villages around the coast have been loosing quotas to the bigger companies in the capital and the inhabitants have been flocking away from those places, leaving behind their worthless houses and half empty fishing plants. Most of the people that have stayed behind are immigrants from Asia and Eastern Europe who have somehow got stuck there. These changes were brought about by a "quota system" set by the official authorities.
This is quite a complicated system and very contradictory to say the least When the system was legalized, the "quota rights" ware basically given out to a certain number of people and fishing industries according to their recent "track record" at sea; i.e. according to how active they had been in terms of quantity of fish pulled out of sea for a certain period of time prior to the execution of this legislation.
This crisis is basically the Background of the film; where set. THE SEA takes place in one of those fishing villages on the East Coast of Iceland; a village that used to be a vivid, efficient fishing village, basically run by one man, Thordur, the owner of the bus,-fishing plant The semi-retired, tyrannical, hard working Thordur who has been "king" in the village (and in his family too) for many decades as the owner of the fishing plant, is fighting against his elder son who would like his father to submit to the new economical and technical realities...
The film tells the conflict between members of a family where a tyrant father, who has suppressed all the other members for such a long time, has to face a show-down when he has gathered the whole family together for a family least.
THE SEA was shot an location in Neskaupstadur, one of those places where the traces of "the golden days" have been fading over the last lo years or so. In the magnificent fjord which is surrounded by beautiful mountains, the small houses and run-down factories form a great contrast that I wanted to use specifically in telling this story.


Cast & Crew

Directed by: Baltasar Kormákur

Written by: Baltasar Kormákur, Olafur Haukur Simonarson

Produced by: Baltasar Kormákur, Jean-François Fonlupt

Cinematography: Jean-Louis Vialard

Editing: Valdis Oskarsdottir

Production Design: Tonie Jan Zetterström

Costume Design: Thorunn Elisabet Sveinsdóttir

Original Score: Jón Ásgeirsson

Cast: Gunnar Eyjolfsson (Þórður), Hilmir Snaer Gudnason (Ágúst), Helene de Fougerolles (Françoise), Nina Dogg Filippusdottir (María), Herdis Thorvaldsdottir (Kata), Sigurður Skúlason (Haraldur), Sven Nordin Sigurdur (Guomundur), Kristbjörg Kjeld (Kristín), Elva Osk Olafsdottir (Áslaug)

Nominations and Awards

  • Feature Film Selection 2002