Carolina Salas

Carolina Salas is a film producer and project manager who works internationally, but has been based in Iceland for the past eleven years. She was born and raised in Madrid.

At this year’s Stockfish Film Festival, Lea Aevars talked to Carolina Salas about her first year as managing director of the festival, which was celebrating its ninth edition.


Can you tell us about the Stockfish Film Festival? What is its mission?

Carolina Salas: The festival aims to create a platform in Reykjavík to encourage a collaboration between domestic and international film communities. It gives the general audience an opportunity to see some of the most up-and-coming art-house films from all over the world. Stockfish is the film industry’s festival in Iceland. It was founded in 2015, as a reincarnation of the Reykjavík Film Festival (Kvikmyndahátíð í Reykjavík), which was established in 1978. 2023 marked its ninth edition.

This year, Stockfish had a specific “Industry in Focus,” a side program from Slovakia in collaboration with Kino Usmev, Bíó Paradís, and the Slovak Film Institute. Can you tell us about this focus? Why Slovakia? 

C.S.: The “Industry in Focus” side program has been one of the innovations that Stockfish 2023 presented and it will stay moving forward. Each year, SFIF will introduce an international industry to the domestic professionals in Iceland during the Industry Days. This way, the festival provides a hub space for further co-productions and collaborations between countries. A delegation of Slovak filmmakers joined the Slovak Day, among those, were established producers Katarína Tomková and Peter Veverka as well as the director of the Slovak Film Fund, Peter Badač. Slovakia was chosen for its similarities with Iceland as a small nation with a notable film industry in constant growth and relevant international impact. Four films were showcased during the festival film days, 107 Mothers by Peter Kerekes, White on White by Viera Čakányová, Victim by Michal Blaško, and The Chambermaid by Mariana Cengel-Solcanská. Filmmakers representing those titles joined the festival and took part in the new “Open Talks.” Furthermore, the festival’s home cinema, Bíó Paradís has an ongoing collaborative project with the Slovak Cinema Kino Usmev where they explore inclusion in cinema among other relevant themes. Stockfish FIF hosted a presentation and panel on the matter in collaboration with both cinemas and a screening of 107 mothers was specifically adapted to autistic audiences.

What can you say about this year’s selection? What should we be on the lookout for? 

C.S.: Stockfish hosts a dynamic and diverse program made up of films that represent world cinema at its best. We are proud of the new innovative program spaces we created, the “Stockfish Film Corners” that are curated spaces dedicated to a certain topic. This year, we had EFA, LUX, and Sundance, but next year they will be different. This way, we can be diverse and inclusive with a wide-open selection of titles and themes.

Stockfish Film Festival has a special short film competition called “Sprettfiskur.” Can you tell us about its emphasis and categories? Are there rising stars on the horizon from Sprettfiskur? 

C.S.: The goal of the competition is to draw attention to aspiring and versatile filmmakers and encourage future achievements with prizes that lay the foundation for the next project. The awards are supported by KUKL Rental, Trickshot Post-production House, and the Icelandic broadcaster RÚV. Winners will be included in RÚV VOD this year. The contenders competed in four categories divided into Fiction, Documentary, Experimental & Artistic Music Video Projects. There are surely rising stars on the horizon –time will tell about this edition, but we can see per se about Ninna Pálmadóttir who directed her first feature film this year with one of the most powerful production companies in Iceland. Well, Ninna won Sprettfiskur a couple of years ago.

How do you see the short form today? Why is it important for you to screen short films at the Stockfish Film Festival? What is a good short film according to you? 

C.S.: Short films are certainly cinema; they have always been. Its technology had evolved, and the themes and values exposed have changed, but when you really look at this medium in film’s historical timeline, is it really that far today from what it was twenty, fifty, or a hundred years ago? Let’s go back and reflect on how the film industry got to where it is today. Short films might be more relevant now than ever and it is quite important that we can provide access to these films through the festival, to promote a format representative of today’s new talent – the next generation of filmmakers.

A good short film, to me, has a clear focus, a storyline crisp, effective and defined, that covers a single dilemma with impactful visuals and a dynamic rhythm that is built by the frames. Score and sound to embroider it all. That said, I believe making a great short film could be even more challenging than making a great feature film as your time and resources are quite limited.

There has been a lot of talk about women in film in the past few years. What do you think of the situation of women in film today? 

C.S.: Optimistically, I hope that the world is getting better and not worse and that we are in a moment of cultural transition where there is an awareness that wasn’t there before in terms of women’s rights, gender equality, and diversity. There is yet a lot of work to be done, but we are on the way.

What are your plans for the future of the Stockfish Film Festival? 

C.S.: In the short term, reflect on the recently passed edition and wholeheartedly analyze and report each step we took to implement it in the years to come. In the long term, to make it a solid space for the film industry to take action and a popular destination for festival goers and film enthusiasts domestically and internationally. To bring the best of world cinema to Iceland and Iceland films and filmmakers to the world.


Photo credits: Courtesy of Carolina Salas.

This interview was conducted at the 2023 Stockfish Film Festival.

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