Iceland, Germany, UK, Denmark


Is he the village genius in disguise? 17 year old Noi drifts through life on a remote fjord in the north of Iceland. In winter, the fjord is cut off from the outside world, surrounded by omnius mountains and buried under a shroud of snow. Noi dreams of escaping from this white-walled prison with Iris, a city girl who works in a local gas station. But his clumsy attempts at escape spiral out of control and end in a complete failure. Only a natural disaster will shatter Noi's universe and offer him a window into a better world.

Director's Statement

Did you always plan to return to Iceland after school in Denmark?
In 1995 I started at the The Danish Film School and graduated in 1999 with a 40 min. long film, called LOST WEEKEND, shot in Denmark. For some time I knew that my films would not necessarily take place in Iceland. But NOI ALBINOI is a very old idea I strongly associated with Iceland, and I always wanted to do my first feature film there, to establish where I come from.

AWhat's the origin of NOI ALBINOI?
The character of Nói Albinói has been living inside me for many years. He is even older than my interest in films, and at some point I considered making cartoons or comics with that character. Throughout the years I have collected all kinds of ideas around him, and by the time I graduated from film school, these ideas were ripe to be locked into a script.

What about the location of the film?
At first, the film was not supposed to take place in an isolated village; I was thinking more about Reykjavik. But finally I thought that Reykjavik was too connected to reality; I wanted to create a universe that did not really exist but could exist. To me the West Fjords were most interesting because of the eerie atmosphere and beautiful, extremely visual scenery. Of course we were very dependent on snow and that was the area that was most likely to have snow. During winter it can be completely cut off from the rest of the world due to extreme weather.

Was the casting difficult to do?
Iceland is small and everybody knows everybody. If you sit in a bar long enough in Reykjavik you will have met all your cast and crew. In NOI I didn't go after blockbuster names. Most of the actors are new to cinema and not celebrities. I mainly went after the right types, and that is why it is a combination of non-professional and professional actors. The woman who plays Lina, the grandmother, delivers the mail in my neighborhood; I met the girl who plays Iris in a vegetarian restaurant. Many members of the cast are personal friends, like the psychologist. Regarding the character of Nói it was clear to me that he would need to have a very distinctive and almost alienated look. And since I do not know any Icelandic albinos of that age that are good actors, Tómas Lemarquis was by far the best choice. Not only is he a very dedicated and talented actor, but he also has the look that I wanted.

You composed the music for NOI ALBINOI?
Yes, with my friend Orri. Together we form a band called "slow-blow". There are very few things in life that I enjoy more than making music. That's why we try to stay away from the business aspect of it. Music is a holiday from our professional lives and we don't allow anything into the chemistry that can ruin the pleasure. But we have nevertheless managed to release two albums independently and a new one is in the Pipelines.

Do you think the theme of the film is very "Icelandic"?
lt was not my intention to make a typically Icelandic film. I like to make films that take place in an isolated microcosm, in a confined universe that is not really a part of the world as we know it, but not surreal either. Somewhere in between. But apart from that, I guess the film is just my version of a story that has been told over and over again: The young rebel, who doesn't fit in anywhere, and tries to escape ... lt is an old cliché but I wanted to do my own version of this kind of story.

Is it something you particularly notice in Iceland, people wishing to escape or to move away? Is it a favourable environment to develop this kind of story in?
Most people move away from Iceland at some point in their lives. It is somehow necessary when you live an an isolated island. But almost everybody returns sooner or later. However, regarding this particular story, I wasn't dealing with Icelandic reality, since I wanted the film to have its own universe.

What are your influences as a filmmaker?
Everything but movies! I very much enjoy making movies, but watching them can be like doing algebra or something. I guess it has something to do with the fact that it has become my profession, because before it wasn't like that at all. But right now I'm very hooked an sitcoms. And I learned very much about filmmaking from The Simpsons.

Do you particularly like the loser type of character Ilke Nói's father or even Nói himself?
To me heros are extremely boring, I mean people who can do everything. I think it's more interesting when people are miscommunicating and don't know how to deal with things. Like in sitcoms, where the characters have the same problems in every episode. They never learn and it just continues for ten years! If they were heros they would just need one episode to solve everything and move on.

Is there a biblical or metaphysical Interpretation of the film?
I am very interested in working with myths in a subconscious way. I want the audience to feel with their guts and emotions a connection to something mythical and universal, but if they become intellectually aware of exactly what it is, while they watch the film, then the task has failed. Nothing is more pathetic to me than stories that have obvious biblical or other references. If a film has a character called Eve, and she picks up an apple, I walk out of the cinema. So it has to be very subtle.

Director's Biography

Born in 1973, Dagur Kári graduated from the National Film School ol Denmark in 1999. His graduation film LOST WEEKEND won 11 internatonal prizes (incl. Brest, Angers, Poitiers, Munich and Tel Aviv). NOI ALBINOI is his first feature film.
Dagur Kän also works as a musician with the band "slowblow" which has relased two alburns and composed the soundtreack of NOI ALBINOI. He is currently working an a Dogma film in Copenhagen.

Cast & Crew

Directed by: Dagur Kári

Written by: Dagur Kári

Produced by: Philippe Bober, Kim Magnusson, Skuli Fr. Malmquist, Thor Sigurjonsson

Cinematography: Rasmus Videbæk

Editing: Daniel Dencik

Production Design: Jón Steinar Ragarsson

Costume Design: Linda B. Arnardóttir, Tanja Dehmel

Make-Up & Hair: Frida Metusalemsdottir

Sound Design: Petur Einarsson

Cast: Tomas Lemarquis (Nói), Thröstur Leo Gunnarsson (Kiddi Beikon), Elin Hansdottir (Íris)

Nominations and Awards

  • European Actor 2003
  • People's Choice Award 2003
  • Feature Film Selection 2003