Woman at War has won this year’s Lux Film Prize. In an interview, director Benedikt Erlingsson talked about climate change and the challenges it poses to democracy.
Woman at war (Kona fer í stríð) tells the story of Halla, a music teacher who lives a double life as a passionate environmental activist. As she begins planning to sabotage an aluminium production plant, which is destroying the Icelandic highlands, she finds out that her application to adopt a child has finally been accepted and there is a little girl waiting for her in Ukraine. At that moment she faces the dilemma of how to reconcile her fight for the environment and her deep wish to become a mother. She finds strength in nature and in the people who support her cause.
Describing the film, director Benedikt Erlingsson said: “It’s about democracy, spin media, and this environmental fight and the right of people to act even if you break the rules." The funny and surreal “arthouse action thriller with a lot of music” employs breath-taking Icelandic nature to illustrate the dramatic urgency of the environmental issues the world is facing.
A rallying cry
“My film is also a warning call," said the Icelanding director during a Facebook live after receiving the prize. "There is a strange culture of denial and postponing the problem. It’s our lifestyle that we have to change and it is a big challenge for our generation."
“Woman are constantly saving the world”
When asked why he chose a female lead (played by Halldóra Geirharðsdóttir), Erlingsson replied: “Women are constantly saving the world. They sometimes use different strategies than men. The world needs saving these days and in the environmental battle women are often very frontal.”
Film and political debate
When awarding the prize in plenary, President Antonio Tajani said: “The finalists tackle three key themes for the future of Europe: the risks associated with extreme nationalism, the urgency of acting to save the environment and the need to find coherent and cohesive responses to the migration issue.” He added, “By showing us new and personal points of view on this Europe of ours, you are contributing significantly to the political debate that takes place every day in this institution.”
Erlingsson also had a message related to the European elections in May 2019: “We are the last generation to do something about climate change. If we don’t do it, it will be too late for our children. That is why we have to vote, it’s one of the biggest instruments that we have in our fight to save the world.”
The 2018 Lux Prize finalists were Styx, Woman at War, and The Other Side of Everything. Find out more about them and when you can see them in a cinema near you.
Choose your favourite and you could be chosen to announce the winner of the Public Mention Prize at the international film festival in Karlovy Vary in the Czech Republic next year.
Supporting European cinema
Over the last 12 years, the Lux Prize has contributed to the promotion of European films, by financing the subtitling of the three finalists into the EU's 24 official languages.. The winning film is adapted for the visually and hearing impaired and receives support for international promotion.