‘I’ll Take The Rain’ – POV Magazine

As a rule, it’s a last resort to talk about the weather, but Sturla Gunnarsson thinks it’s very interesting. The Emmy and Genie-award-winning filmmaker has revelled in extreme climates since his childhood in Iceland and says that he’s at his happiest when contending with the elements. “I like weather,” says Gunnarsson over lunch in downtown Toronto. “My comfort zone is just not in a moderate place. I like it to be really cold, really hot, really rainy or really windy. There’s no such thing as bad weather. read the...

Lights, Camera, Iceland – article for Globe & Mail

I’m standing on a mountain pass, looking out over a glacial river delta on Iceland’s south coast. Looming behind me is the Myrdalsjokull, an immense glacier shrouding an active volcano. It is the most beautiful, primordial landscape I’ve ever seen — which is why I picked it as the main shooting location for Beowulf & Grendel. I want the landscape to take a lead role in my new film, but I didn’t bank on a delayed start date. The shoot is taking place during the stormiest autumn in 60 years. And with wind gusting at 160 kilometres an hour, the line in the script “Odin gets drunk, wrecks the house,” nearly comes true. I watch as a black volcanic sandstorm approaches, threatening to obliterate the set — a sixth-century mead hall — behind me. “It’s getting a little breezy,” first assistant director Wendy Ord shouts. “We’ve lost eight vehicles to flying debris, the roads to the east and west have been closed, and the roof just blew off the hotel next to ours at the base of the mountain. If we lose the mead hall, we’re done.” If you attended a premiere screening of Beowulf & Grendel last night, you know the mead hall survives, and that the film transports viewers to a fantastic realm of glacial deserts, haunted valleys and icy lagoons. What you might not know is that none of the scenery is computer-generated — they’re all real locations in my native land. Despite their rugged appearances, all these locations can be toured comfortably via the paved highway that circles Iceland. But you’ll need a four-wheel-drive vehicle to take...

Parting Shot – Montage Magazine Article about Force of Nature

This photograph was taken at Beatrice Lake, in BC’s Valhalla Park on June 2009, near the beginning of the shoot for my documentary film about David Suzuki (Force of Nature). This alpine lake is where Suzuki used to escape and go fishing with his father when he was six years old and his family was interned in the Slocan Valley below.  It holds a mystical place in the Suzuki narrative, where he and his father found a kind of freedom from the internment camps and his love of nature was born.  He had climbed up here with his dying father a few years ago so his dad could see the lake one last time.  I wanted to retrace those steps with Suzuki and explore those memories now, as he contemplates his own mortality. It was a tough, two-day climb carrying production equipment, tents and provisions on our backs.  We were all exhausted when we got to the top and by the time we’d set up camp it was a sunset.  Trout were jumping in the lake — we caught our fill and cooked them on the campfire as dusk fell.  Then Suzuki built a stone cairn in memory of his father and returned to the fire, where this picture was taken.  When I look at it now, I see a moment of grace at the end of a grueling two-day hike, the moment when the subject of the film let down his guard and began to trust the...