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UNA t s e F uch


Wall Paintingst Trip In Black Beach

International Film Festival: Interviewing Riff Volunteers 1

Contents Reykjavik International Film Festival: Interviewing Riff Volunteers


Alvaro Bravo

Worldwide Friends 2011

Viva The Community, Viva The Couch Fest


Kelly Baker

Wall Paintings


Minna Tuokko, Yulim Lee

Impresions Of A Trip


Alvaro Bravo

Experiment: Hitch-Hiking In Iceland


Martina Horakh, Birgan Gokmenoglu

More Colors!


Anna Kenson 2


Interviewing Riff Volunteers


etween the of September 22nd until the 2nd of October, Iceland is welcoming one of the most important annual film events in Europe, with more 25.000 guests annually, international stars like Milos Forman, Jim Jarmusch and Costa-Gavras. An event that anyone who stays in Reykjavik must not miss: the Reykjavik International Film Festival.


Haddie from Israel

What are you doing exactly to support RIFF?

I came here like a volunteer in this pretty nice and pretty cool project and you could work here and watching the film at the same time.

Now I’m checking tickets when the film starts.

Where are you from? Do you if are they another volunteers from different countries?

I’m Vanessa. I’m twenty years old. I’m working now selling tickets for RIFF and I enjoy this work because there so many people come here every day.

I’m from Israel. It’s a good opportunity to know people who are working there from Asia, Europe, from United States, from Canada, it’s pretty amazing this experience with World Wide Friends. And you can know something interesting about each culture, each country. Every day I can try different food from every country, new food.

Vanessa from Germany

Can you explain what is a workcamp properly? In a workcamp you can go to Iceland or another several countries and you must bring your own sleeping bag, and you only must to pay and extra fee and the flight and you can 5

How are your first impressions in Iceland? What do you prefer in Iceland?

And do you know any actors that participate in these movies?

I like the landscapes and in the first day it was raining but the sun was shining, and suddenly appears a really great rainbow. So beautiful and I think I fell in love with Iceland.

In these festivals they not are very popular actors in these films from the international opinion but I know one good French actress and she plays in two movies in the RIFF. It’s really important that the director choose with careful every actors because they are going to do the people believe in the story how something natural.

Michael, leader of Worldwide Friends

Do you of another organization from volunteer are working for the festival too apart of Worldwide Friends? Apart of Worldwide Friends we have a lot of organizations, they also brig a lot of volunteers and some students from the university of Reykjavik are helping in another cinemas of the city. And I don’t know where comes the money to organize this festival. Maybe from the govern-

Do you know what kind of films can we find in this festival?

know a lot of countries for over the world. Is this a good way to know people from different countries? For example in my flat, for lunchtime, from the dinner people from different countries cook different foods. We have two Japanese girls and they prepare their typical meal, and it’s interesting to know how they cooked, how they can live.


We have many films from Scandinavia, a lot from Poland, from Romania, for these event and this kind of festival. The most part of the movies are quite dramatic, sad also they are really good. And can you find here great productions from Hollywood? You can see here another kind of cinema, with another stories, that doesn’t use in general a big thread, it’s always quite modest although that use more money in production from Venice. They use special historical costumes.


ment of Iceland, from the European Union. I don’t have too much time to think about that hehehe… I don’t know actually where appears the money to support this festival.

couple and their problems appears inside, one of them try to dominate the other. Finally you can see who takes the control, who is the victim. It’s pretty interesting.

Lydia, from Germany

Do you prefer this kind of movies, alternative cinema, before?

I’m a volunteer from RIFF and my job consists in check the volume of the mic, the sounds, voices form the actors works rightly. And I love this work because I’m really interested in cinema, it’s pretty nice. My job stay behind the screen, nobody could see it but it’s basic for a cinema. Pay attention all the time that the film it’s running. Do you need before some experience as technician of sounds before? No, not really. I have learnt in one day. What is your favorite movie in the festival? My favorite film in this festival is from Sweden and it’s about the relation between young


I prefer the Europeans production than the big American productions. And I really like discover these films and could see the variety of topics. When I go to the cinema, I don’t have clearly expectations about the film and this it’s really exciting.

Marie, from France There some people selling the tickets, some people is checking tickets in entrance of the room. This it’s a nice job that let you see the movies also. How many hours are you working in the cinema every day? Let me think, today I started at one thirty and I will stay

here until seven o]clock. Fives hours and half. Some days are longer also like teen hour of work. But normally it’s no so hard. Are some people from Worldwide Friends in the airport taking the guests driving to festival? Actually there only are two people bring the guests from the airport and they are from Iceland because they know well the city.

Can you show me how you use this machine that control the volume of the sound? How is it working? Ahh… ok, ok, I can show you. This is the wheel that you can use for regulated all the volume of the sound. At the beginning of the film you must to put the right light that illuminated all the room, check if you need less or more light. With this little window I can see the room and see if the screen stay in the middle. And here we can put the DVD.



Peering down Norđurstígur, a narrow, quiet street by the harbor, I slowly begin to make my way towards a red house. The door bears a bright yellow poster, an assured sign that I’ve made it to my destination. Sheepishly, I turn the door handle as an American couple arrives behind me and exude a sigh of relief: “Guess we found it!” Together we traipse up the unfamiliar stairs and encounter two other strangers at the top. One by one, we exchange hands, names, home countries. Our host, an exchange student from France, shows us to a candle lit room with seats, snacks, and a TV. After some welcoming words, the show begins as she presses play. This is Couch Fest Films.



An awkwardly awesome history A recent transplant from the vibrant city of Austin, Texas, Craig Downing was trying to think of ways to thaw the “Seattle chill” that seemed to plague the inhabitants of his new hometown. With a passion for films and bringing people together in “awkwardly awesome” ways, he began brainstorming. Ultimately unsatisfied with the typical cineplex experience, which he likens to a bad date—sitting in the dark, sharing an emotional encounter without talking about it and then rushing home—he decided the best way to remedy the situation was to throw a bunch of strangers on a cozy couch in front of a TV set. In its inaugural year, festival volunteers around Seattle hosted their fellow neighbors in their own living rooms to watch short films and engage in friendly conversation for a day. Thus, Couch Fest was born. Overall, the first annual Couch Fest was a success and has since grown both in size and scope. Each year, Craig accepts submissions and scours film festivals around the world to find the best short films. He and his crew then arrange the 12

selected films into different categories to be screened at the individual houses. On the day of the festival, each house hosts a 35-minute screening of a specific film category. Categories have ranged from animation, comedy, and experimental houses, to the popular, but only once-lived, documentary house, to the horror house, a surprising flop. Coming to a couch near you Four years later, the festival has now spread from Seattle to Slovakia, Portland to Peru, New York to the Netherlands and many other sites internationally. With this year’s festival headquarters in Reykjavik, Craig has ambitiously taken the festival to an international audience for the first time in its short history. This year’s festival consisted of 65 films, all of which are no longer than eight minutes, showcased in twelve different countries on the same day: September 24, 2011. Lessons learned Reflecting on this year’s festival, Craig is realistic. “Let’s start with the bad news,” he says, “Iceland.” Notoriously a

more reserved people, Icelanders didn’t seem taken with the idea of entering a stranger’s home. The traffic at the houses in Reykjavik was light at best, and Downing sites publicity issues as well as cultural ones. However, he insists that these missed opportunities were certainly learned lessons, and areas in which to grow. On the other hand, Craig is especially proud of the success of the festival sites in Oman and Haiti. “We were able to bring satanic Western media to Oman!” Craig exclaims. And despite the natural disasters and ensuing political and social turmoil, Haitians wereable to enjoy the same films as all the other festival attendees around the world. Though he’s experienced significant setbacks in expanding Couch Fest internationally, Craig continues to challenge himself. He has no plans to scale back his ambitions of bringing all types of people together to laugh, cry, and punch

each other’s shoulders over some “mind-blowing” films. But for Craig the film festival is not strictly about appreciating film. He insists, “We’re a film festival, but shhh! We’re not really a film festival,” for him, Couch Fest is ultimately about gathering people together to share an experience.


S G N I T N AI WALL PWHY? WHO? If you are going to walk around streets of Reykjavik I really recommend that you take a look at Hverfisgata. There you will find a couple of really colourful buildings. There is also a Coffee House that belongs to Worldwide Friends. I suggest that you go in and drink a hot cup of coffee. Also, there are many kinds of different handmade things from all around the world, so take your time.


At the coffee house we also met a woman named Celia Richard. She is one of the people who is responsible for these wall paintings.

Where did you get inspiration on these wall paintings? My mother has loved South Africa since I was a child so I became interested in that culture also. I’ve never been there but I’ve heard a lot about it from her. One of their customs is to make this wall painting art. It seems very bright and colorful but don’t ask the South Africans why it is like this, because there is no reason. This tradition is going to move from mother to daughter and there aren’t any kind of rules about shapes and their size. 15

Why Africa and Iceland? I went to Colombia in Tierra Bomba last July to August and my team had worked for two months there. Right from the beginning the organization has been looking for the opportunities to set up a project in cooperation with an organization in a southern country. After Colombia we came here to Iceland in Septemper and started our own wall painting project. What is your plan after this? I am going to Colombia again this December and will keep painting, but also try to request help from the goverment. The last time we were in colombia it was July. Because of hot or rainy weather it was really hard for us but in December I expect the wheather might be better. I think it could be good energy what we are doing for them so I am proud of my work and I love it.

S N O I S E R Of a trip P M I W

hen I woke up it still was here, like an old dream enveloped in the fog. A powerful howl was calling for me in the distance, it was the water crashing loudly against the rocks. On the ground was a little lagoon not very deep with bright blue and greens colors. Between the noise and the fury of the elements I could see some shy sunbeams through dense fog and the sunbeams projected the most wonderful rainbow that I have ever seen in my life. It was very near, so much so that you think you could touch it, like a dream that escapes in your hands. When you are just in the centre of the rainbow you see a perfect circle shining around you. Steam, fog, light and water. You feel as if you are staying inside in a painting of the master English William Turner. He loves these kinds of effects, playing with the light in his paintings. The river flowed over a high green hill. There weren’t trees or bushes near to the waterfall, just a wonderful empty landscape where you could see in every direction. The clouds in the sky were like grey heavy stones, with a surprising variety of grey inside. In this moment I understood how this landscape can inspire bands like Sigur Ros. How the nature could link with the people, how this changes us. Saves us.

WF store World traditional items: jewelry, clothes, bags, statues, runes, Coffee shop and Chill-out space Hverfisgata 59 - 101 Reykjavik



d n a l e c I n i g n iki


H h c t i H


any people think that it is very easy to hitch hike in Iceland because Icelandic people are really friendly and openminded. But in fact, it is way more difficult than you expect if you don’t consider special circumstances.



We, 3 girls from Turkey (Birgan), USA (Kelly) and Germany (Martina), have never hitch-hiked before and we were really curious about the experience. Determined to go to the Blue Lagoon, thinking that it would be one of the easiest places to hitchhike to, the three of us first headed to the BSI bus station to figure out which way we should be going. There is only one highway going around the island, so we thought it would be pretty easy to find someone to pick us up once we found the right direction to go. Plus, a few days ago there were a couple of people from another workcamp who have hitchhiked to the Blue Lagoon, and they were picked up in five minutes. So we were confident that we would succeed when we got out of the White House. The first obstacle we came across was the saleswoman at the BSI. When we asked her which way we should go, she started telling us how dangerous the road could be in rainy weather and how taking a bus would get us a discount in the entrance fee for the Blue Lagoon. She sounded like a saleswoman trying to sell tick-


ets, so we moved on to someone else, who thought we were driving with our own car, but he turned out to be helpful and we headed for the highway. Once we were on the road, we tried to spot a good place to signal with our thumbs up. We were basically trying to find a place where we could be clearly seen and where the cars that would pick us up would be able to stop by the road. We tried 2 or 3 spots but no one would pick us up. So we kept on walking towards the Blue Lagoon, slowly losing hope. On the way, we saw some mushrooms and did not think twice to take photos. We even picked one and kept it, hoping it will bring us luck. Our lucky mushroom marked the turn of events in our hitchhiking adventure. We kept on walking and stopped for a few times before we saw a gas station. We assumed it would be a good place to ask people if they could pick us up, but we were really not that hopeful and even though we did not admit this out loud to each other, we were thinking about going back and taking a bus if this lasted for too long. At the gas station, someone advised us to make a sign that

said “Blue Lagoon” on it, so we went in and started making it. Kelly was finished with the word “Blue” someone told us to write it in Icelandic, so the sign was changed into “Blaa Lonid”. This was fun! We were back on the road, Birgan holding the sign, Martina and Kelly signalling. After about two minutes, when an Audi with tinted windows stopped right in front of us, we could not believe our eyes. We were really happy when the guy inside the car told us that he was going to drive in the direction of Blue Lagoon, our destination. So, since Birgan and Kelly didn’t want to sit in the front, so Martina did it. I just started to talk about anything because most drivers take hitch-hikers with them because they want to have someone they can talk to. The guy was from Kosovo so it was interesting to know what he was doing in Iceland and whether he likes the country or not. Well, his answer distracted us a bit: “I don’t like Iceland at all. It was my manager who made me come here for playing handball. It’s a contract. And I don’t like the people.” We were wondering why he didn’t like the people

because towards us everyone was really nice. Then he said several strange things about stealing and killing and something about men and women, that here in Iceland, they’ve got equal rights and that he doesn’t like that because you should know “who’s the man”. Wow, we thought, we’re sitting next to a person who thinks that women should be inferior to men, that’s a bit scary. Although we really wanted to start a discussion and talk with him about that, I guess it was better to suppress that desire and switch the subject. Some minutes later, he pointed out where he lived and said that he would drop us here and that we would need another person who would take us to our destination. Okay, no problem, but then, why didn’t he stop? His phone rang and he talked to someone mentioning the Blue Lagoon. I had an idea what he was going to do and it turned out right: he really drove us all the way to our destination, taking a detour for himself of about 40 minutes! We thanked him a lot and went quickly to the Blue Lagoon Spa, happy that we really did the hitch-hiking but also relieved that everything went alright!


More colors! fmous gra a f e h T . ulo him as Ch us about his definiw o n k le p d Most peo Reykjavik talks to ou love an y t a h w f g o in s. fiti ar tist a living do ainted on city wall g in k a m , t np tion of ar expressio f o s m r o f different

Why “Chulo”? Chulo means “pimp” in Spanish but it also like a slang word, you can say “you’re sweater is really chulo”, that means “cool”. But it can also be totally opposite: “look at that chulo, he’s trying to be cool and show off”. I like words that have different meanings. And the main reason why I use this name is that it doesn’t sound like any other name in town, nobody has similar name. Do people in Reykjavik know you as Chulo? Actually, I don’t sign my paintings anymore. People know it’s 22

me. There aren’t many people painting, in Reykjavik there is maybe 20-30 of them. But then you have few hundred kids who just do tags. For how long have you been learning before you started to paint graffiti? I just started. I was maybe 16 and I started the whole thing alone. I’m 31 so I have 15 years of experience now. But when I was starting we didn’t have any Internet or magazines, we didn’t even know how it was supposed to look like, the only things we saw were here just on the street. Now it is much 23

easier, the young kids can develop much faster, before it took years to just to realize the basic things and now you can just learn in 5 minutes. Who would you say have been your greatest artistic influences over the years? It changes and people inspire me in different ways. Different people, not necessary connected with my style but probably one of the most important artists for me today in the whole world are twins OS GEMEOS from São Paulo, they are incredible, and also people like SWOON in New York City who makes posters, she’s quite amazing, or KEGR and a lot of people I met. Yeah, I think there’s a lot of people who inspire me… Have you ever lived outside Iceland working? Yes, in Spain. There is a lot of graffiti there. It’s a lot different because this city has been fighting graffiti for years and Spain is like Disneyland for graffiti artists, there are so many walls to paint. In Iceland it’s a very seasonal thing, although I try to paint in the winter as much as possible. 24

What is graffiti for you and how would you define art? It’s a tricky question because graffiti is not just sprayed paint, you can just as well do it with regular paint. Today we have two scenes: street art and graffiti. In graffiti there are sprayed paint and letters dominately and also characters and backgrounds but street art focuses more on visual things like characters. They use stickers, posters, markers, paint, whatever. But graffiti has changed a bit, now you can use more things, more utensils but it’s still not ok to use tape. The interesting thing is that now these two things are blending together, people who are doing graffiti are also doing street art and it can be a little bit hard to recognize where’s the line between them. Would you name yourself an artist? [thinking…] Yes, probably, I think so. Tell me something more about your previous and next project you work on. Last two were just personal projects but I can say about another

one, the graffiti square down the Hverfisgata, there was a building which burnt down and now there are two green monsters and I’m the author of the monster on the right. Now in the back they finally blocked all the windows and put wood in them, so few of us just went there to paint it because it must be horrible for families of people who died there to see the house burnt down every day. We tried to paint the wood in many different styles and to make this place as happy and nice as possible. It was quite dangerous, we had a really bad scaffolding.

street art is the real art of today, that’s what the people are watching everyday and most people are doing it for nothing, for no money so it’s even more interesting. So how do you make a living? I do some projects for companies or for private people but mostly I look for a job for a company so I could have more paints to do my own things, I see it that way.

So is what you do more for yourself or for the audience? And who is your audience? Mostly we paint the walls for ourselves and I like walls when nobody tells me what to do, but we also do things for everyone in this town, I think we have possibilities to make the town looks really nice. I would like to have paintings everywhere but not just graffiti – because who goes to galleries these days? Especially now because the Gallery of Reykjavik used to be for free but now you have to pay for the entry. So who is going now? Nobody. I think the graffiti and 25

But it doesn’t mean you didn’t have a talent… I don’t know, it was something I was interested in so I trained and to become a good copy artist number one, two and three is to draw. There are practical things about how to paint and how to use a can you pick up fast. As within all art, it’s not the technique, I’d say the context is always the hardest part. Do all of your paintings have a meaning? How about the costs, is it only for rich people? Yes, it is quite expensive. I’ve always been lucky enough to be able to use projects to finance my other paintings. Where do you seek ideas, themes, subjects, inspirations…? In the last few years I’ve been playing a lot with my name using Latino symbolism to make it look like silly gangsters. Lately I’ve been painting a lot of characters that are like kids in costumes. There’s something about them that appeals to 26

everybody e.g. like the green monsters – if you don’t like them, you kind of have to be an idiot. They’re nice and friendly.

meaning. Even if you try to not have any meaning there will always be some. Some advices for young graffiti artist? Yeah! Draw, draw, draw and try to look at what other people are doing, use the Internet - through Youtube you can learn anything. Educate yourself. Last word? More colors!

Not really. I think it’s almost impossible to do any art without

How long does it take to paint a medium-sized wall? It varies. It can be half a day or one day, I try to finish my paintings in one day and I’ve painted very big ones if I have a machine to go up and down. Do you have to be an outstanding visual artist to become a graffiti artist? No, when I started I didn’t know how to draw. 27


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