Gaukur Úlfarsson (Iceland, Special Presentations)
Sunday, May 1, 4:15 p.m.
Isabel Bader Theatre (93 Charles Street West)
Monday, May 2, 9:30 p.m.
TIFF Bell Lightbox 2 (350 King Street West)
Sunday, May 8, 6 p.m.
Cumberland 2 (159 Cumberland Street)
Imagine if Stephen Colbert’s briefly lived bid for presidency had continued and he had wound up launched into the oval office by the momentum of his country’s disenchanted voters. Albeit on a smaller scale, this is essentially what happens to Icelandic comedian and actor Jón Gnarr, who in 2009 set out on a satirical campaign to become mayor of Reykjavik (Iceland’s largest and basically only city) under the banner of his newly formed political movement The Best Party. With the fall-out from Iceland’s economic collapse still fresh, the political cynicism of Reykjavik’s citizens proves to be a breeding ground for fake politics, and Gnarr’s joke of a campaign suddenly flourishes.
Structurally, Gnarr left us a bit confused. It felt as though the film hadn’t been edited for a North American audience, that too much knowledge was being assumed—we often did not know where or when we were situated in the story. While Gnarr’s campaign itself gains momentum, the film doesn’t follow suit, remaining at a flat-but-pleasant hum throughout the documentary’s course. While there are some funny moments, just how funny Jón Gnarr’s campaign really was seemed to be getting lost in translation. Watching the film, we began to suspect that Icelandic humour is of a higher-evolution order, that the irony was so entrenched and so dry that it was almost undetectable to our crass North American palette.