That certainly does not apply to my film, says director of award-winning film “And Breathe Normally”.

The film was screened at the Sundance Film Festival, where Ísold (pictured) was awarded with the best international director award, and at the Gothenburg Film Festival, where it got the international critics award as best picture.

And Breathe Normally, the first feature film of multi award-winning director Ísold Uggadóttir, had it’s premier in Iceland on March 9th. It had already been screened at the Sundance Film Festival, where Ísold was awarded with the best international director award, and at the Gothenburg Film Festival, where it got the international critics award as best picture. Written and directed by Ísold and starring Kristín Þóra Haraldsdóttir, Babetida Sadjo, and Patrik Nökkvi Pétursson, the story details the connection made between a refugee on her way to Canada and a border patrol officer struggling to raise her young son on her own. Where did Ísold get the idea for this story?
“I started working on the script back in 2012,” Ísold says. “Then I had just moved back to Iceland after living ten years in the U.S. and I got preoccupied with poverty in Iceland and the daily struggle of single mothers to support themselves and their children. I wanted to tell the story of that struggle and how it affects their whole life.”

“And Breathe Normally and Rift are first and foremost stories of human feelings and interaction and I think it might be time to stop categorising films by the sexual orientation of their protagonists.”

The other protagonist in the film is a refugee from Guinea-Bissau which has had to flee her home country because of her sexual orientation, where did her story come from?
“When I was writing the script for And Breathe Normally I spent a lot of time in town Reykjanesbær where the other protagonist, Lára, lives and as there was a lot of discussion at the time about refugees who were living in a refugee center in Reykjanesbær and how they were stranded there, not able to leave, not able to stay, I got interested in somehow combining the stories of these two struggling

The story details the connection made between a refugee on her way to Canada and a border patrol officer struggling to raise her young son on her own.

women from different corners of the world. I registered in the friends program of the Red Cross in Iceland and through them got to know and befriend a woman from Uganda who had been forced to flee her home country because she was a lesbian. It seemed important to show how in some countries your life can be in danger just because of your sexual orientation.”

In the film Adja is not from Uganda but from Guinea-Bissau, why did you change her homeland?
“Because the actress who plays her is from Guinea-Bissau,” Ísold explains. “The film is partly financed by Belgians and we worked with a casting agency in Brussel to find the actress to play Adja. We got 13 actresses to audition and Babetida Sadjo’s performance just took our breaths away. She was exactly what I was looking for. When we started working together she shared stories of homosexuals in Guinea-Bissau who had been forced to flee their country and we interwove those stories into the script. So even though Adja had been from Uganda in the original script we decided to change her country of origin to Guinea-Bissau.”

The other protagonist in the film is a refugee from Guinea-Bissau which has had to flee her home country because of her sexual orientation.

It is obvious why you choose to make Adja a lesbian, as it is the reason for her status as a refugee, but why did you decide to make Lára a lesbian as well?
“I’ve gotten that question before,” Ísold says with a sigh. “It was not really a conscious decision, no more so than making her a brunette. She just is a lesbian. That’s not an issue. You could just as well ask me why she has dark hair.”

Watching the film one can see what Ísold means by that answer. A Breathe Normally is not a “gay film” by any stretch of that definition, even though both the main protagonists are lesbian. But given the fact that lesbians have been a rare sight in Icelandic movies in the past and that recently the film Rift, by Erlingur Óttar Thoroddsen had a gay couple as protagonists, we press the point. Has the trend for gay mainstream films finally reached Iceland?

“I don’t know,” Ísold says. “My short film Family Reunion from 2006 had a lesbian protagonist, so it’s not unheard of in the Icelandic film industry, but it’s true that it has not been common here. Abroad it’s been happening for quite some time, as homosexuality has become more normalised, and in my opinion it is no longer any issue. Films like Moonlight and Call Me By Your Name are mainstream films which may have opened this genre – if it even is a genre – up to the public, but they as well as And Breathe Normally and Rift are first and foremost stories of human feelings and interaction and I think it might be time to stop categorising films by the sexual orientation of their protagonists. It most definitely does not apply to And Breathe Normally at any rate.”

“ She just is a lesbian. That’s not an issue. You could just as well ask me why she has dark hair.”

The scene stealer in And Breathe Normally is Patrik Nökkvi Pétursson who plays Eldar, Lára’s son. This was his first experience as a film actor and Ísold says that when he auditioned in a scene where Eldar is looking for his cat she  instantly knew that he was the right one for the part.
“We had been looking for children to act in the film for quite some time when Patrik Nökkvi came to audition. He just nailed it in one take. Showing such determination and dept of feelings looking for an imaginary cat in a shed that we just knew we had struck gold. And his bonding with the cat, when we started shooting for real was exceptional. One of the advice that aspiring film directors usually get is not using children and animals in their first feature film, as they are really hard to direct, but I had directed children before and I wanted to tell the story of this boy and his mother – and the cat, of course, the cat is essential.”

And Breathe Normally is the first feature film of multi award-winning director Ísold Uggadóttir.

Even though Ísold is a Columbia University MFA graduate her film, And Breathe Normally, has a strong European aura. Does she look more to European film makers than American ones?
“Yeah, maybe I do,” she muses. “Even though I studied in New York and lived there for ten years I don’t really find American films representing the things that speak to me most in films. So I guess you could say that my film making is more in the European vain. And I admit that my favorite film makers are European. Also I spent quite some time in Europe while writing the script besides the film being a multi national European cooperation and the head of cinematography is Polish, and that might have had some influence on how the final outcome looks.”

And Breathe Normally had it’s world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in January where it got rave reviews and Ísold won the award as best international director. That was followed up by the film getting the international critics award as best picture in Gothenburg. Was she expecting such enthusiastic receptions?
“I was not really thinking about the reception the film would get at that point,” Ísold admits. “All the energy went into getting the film ready for screening, gathering my cast and crew to be in attendance at Sundance etc. and I had not spared a thought for how the audience would react. When they read my name out loud as best international director I was simply stunned and it took a while to register that they meant me. But of course I’m very happy about this honour and grateful to the judges both in Sundance and in Gothenburg.”

“When you are telling a story it has to come from your heart. You really have to live and breathe in the world of the film while you’re working on it. If you are only doing it for money and fame it always shows in the outcome.”

Now the film has had it’s premier here in Iceland what will be the next steps?
“We will take it to a feminist film festival in Stockholm later this month and it will be shown in cinemas all around Sweden later this year. Our distribution company, The Match Factory in Berlin, is working on it’s promotion and distribution and we’ll just have to wait and see where that takes us. This all takes a very long time in this business, but after this unbelivable start we are optimistic about it’s future.”

With all these awards under her belt Ísold has been getting propositions to direct films by other writers, is that something she would consider doing or is she set on telling her own stories?
“That’s one of the things I’m thinking about these days,” she says with a little laugh. “I’m not really sure if I want to be just the director. I would at least have to choose the film very carefully. When you are telling a story it has to come from your heart. You really have to live and breathe in the world of the film while you’re working on it. If you are only doing it for money and fame it always shows in the outcome. I don’t think I would ever be able to tell a story I didn’t believe in with all my heart.”

The Hamburger Factory
- gourmet burgers

Ok. You’re in Iceland. Most likely for the first time.

You will probably bathe in the Blue Lagoon and take a road trip to Gullfoss and
Geysir. That’s all well and good. But neither Geysir’s nor waterfalls are
something you eat. That’s why we have 15 brilliant and creative hamburgers at
The Hamburger Factory. And they are all perfectly square. Don’t miss out on
Iceland’s most beloved hamburgers.

The Hamburger Factory is Iceland’s most innovative gourmet burger chain.
Packed with burger-craving customers since it’s opening in 2010, among the
regulars is Iceland’s best known fisherman, Eric Clapton. In our restaurants we
welcome tourists with our newspaper like menu and smiley service. They are
packed with fun items and memorable connections to Icelandic pop culture.


Omnom Chocolate
- award-winning chocolate maker

    Omnom Chocolate is an Icelandic craft chocolate company based in Reykjavík. We produce handcrafted chocolate from organic cacao beans sourced ethically and sustainably. We’ve developed direct relationships to create premium chocolate with fine flavor cacao beans.

    Our creative flavors are carefully crafted by meticulous chocolate makers. The cacao beans are roasted, winnowed, ground, and refined into melty-smooth chocolate.

    Omnom’s process is one of constant exploration, invention, and experimentation. If it doesn’t please us, if something isn’t absolutely delicious, there’s no reason to be doing it. So, we always start with our taste buds and follow our instincts. Our team searches for the finest ingredients in the world and new ways to improve chocolate. This obsession with knowing where our ingredients come from has led us around the corner to dairy farms in the Icelandic countryside and all the way to rainforest cacao farms of Nicaragua.

    In only a few short years, we’ve grown from our 50 sq. m. petrol station space and become an award-winning chocolate maker. Now, with our headquarters in 101 Reykjavík, our chocolate is sent out around Iceland and all over the world.

    At the end of the day, our goal is to make chocolate.


    Alfred’s Apartments
    - gay owned an operated

      Alfred’s Apartments and Alfred’s Studios is a gay operated and owned accommodation in the heart of Reykjavik.

      Alfred’s Apartments offers spacious apartments at a good price located just around the corner from Laugavegur shopping street. You can choose the apartment starting from a Small Studio for 2 persons to a large One-bedroom Apartment with balcony for 5 persons.

      Their staff will ensure your comfort during the stay and provide the most updated information about the city, gay and night life in Reykjavik.

      Each apartment has a private bathroom with a shower, fully equipped kitchen and free Wi-Fi. Guests can buy groceries at the local grocery store 50 meters from the apartments. Because of their very central location, numerous shops, restaurants and cafés are available in the surrounding area. The Church of Hallgrimur is located 350 m from the apartments, a tourist agency is just 50 m away and the nearest gay bar is less than 5 minutes walking distance.

      Laekur hostel
      In the hostel we have dorms for 4-8 persons with shared kitchen and bathroom facilities. The rooms are furnished with free internet, lockers, and a USB charger by each bed. The beds have linen provided and you can rent a towel in the cafe on the ground floor for 5 EUR.

      All the dorms are mixed with both genders. You can also book a whole room with 4-8 bunker beds.

      Blue Lagoon
      - a world of wonder

      Named by National Geographic as one of the 25 Wonders of the World, the Blue Lagoon is a shimmering expanse of warmth, relaxation, and rejuvenation. Its unique geothermal seawater comes from 2000 meters within the earth where sea and fresh water converge in a tectonic frontier of porous lava and searing heat. Propelled by extreme pressure, the water ascends to the earth’s surface, emerging enriched with silica, algae, and minerals: the elements that endow Blue Lagoon geothermal seawater with its radiant, healing properties.

      From its humble beginnings in the shadows of a geothermal power plant, Blue Lagoon has evolved into a world of wonder, now encompassing a hotel, a restaurant, a luxury lounge, a renowned line of skin care, a research center, in-water massage, and a wealth of spa and refreshment facilities.

      Achieving harmony with the volcanic landscape of Iceland’s Reykjanes lava plain, the lagoon and its surrounding architecture embody the unification of the man-made and the natural, and adhere to the highest principles of sustainability.

      Blue Lagoon. A wonder of the world. A world of wonder.

      Whales of Iceland
      - larger than life

      Whales of Iceland is the largest whale exhibition in Europe (and perhaps even the world), where guests can learn about the giants of the sea in a calm and modern environment. The permanent exhibition features whales like guests have never seen them before. It is truly a giant experience.

      - leading financial institution

      Landsbankinn is a leading Icelandic financial institution. It offers a full range of financial services and is the market leader in the Icelandic financial service sector with the largest branch network.

      The present bank was established on 7 October 2008 but the history of its predecessor dates back to 1886. The bank is owned by the National Treasury of Iceland, which holds 98.2% of its share capital, and other shareholders who own 1.8%.

      Landsbankinn’s strategy is to provide comprehensive financial services that meet customer’s needs. It emphasizes providing exemplary service to customers, developing e-banking for their convenience, increasing the efficiency of support functions, modernizing its technology and ensuring effective utilization of its balance sheet.

      The bank’s vision is to be exemplary and its role is to be a trusted financial partner.

      Special emphasis is placed on promoting a performance-oriented culture in the bank. To follow up on the implementation of this strategy, the bank has defined key goals which are measured regularly to determine progress. These goals include, for example, customer satisfaction and loyalty, profitability, cost efficiency and the correlation between risk appetite and employee satisfaction.

      Landsbankinn wishes to lead the development of a sustainable society in Iceland by integrating economic, social and environmental concerns in its operations. The Bank aims to ensure that both its owners and society at large benefit from its activities.

      It intends to achieve this aim by building solid infrastructure and a strong team of 1.100 employees, by listening to its customers and by respecting and encouraging its employees to actively participate in their community. Landsbankinn was a founding member of Festa, a Centre for Corporate Social Responsibility, and is a member of the UN Global Compact.

      Landsbankinn has been a proud sponsor of the Reykjavik Pride since it was first celebrated in Iceland.

      - get inspired

      Dohop allows people to find the cheapest flights available with just one click. Founded in Reykjavik in 2004, it is the only Icelandic company of its kind and quickly became the go-to tool for finding cheap flights among the locals. Dohop finds the best deals among hundreds of different airlines and online travel agencies, to make sure that the user is getting the cheapest price. Dohop also offers hotel and car rental search engines, so users can make all of their travel bookings from a single website.

      Dohop‘s specialty is finding so-called “self-connect” flight options, which can save travelers money by booking a ticket through two or more different airlines. The ability to look for these self-connect option is what sets Dohop apart from its competition, as it can save people hundreds of dollars on certain routes.

      More recently, Dohop has developed a unique product called Dohop Go!, which allows users to check for the cheapest available flights from their home airport. This tool is perfect for those who are looking for travel inspiration but are not willing to overpay for their flight ticket. Dohop Go! is now available in the Dohop Flights App, both for Android and iOS, along with its traditional flight, hotel, and car search engines. “

      - for all your Apple needs

      From starting out as a proper startup with only a good idea and the need to change things, to becoming an established company with 6 employees. Starting from scratch and expanding organically has allowed us to love our expansion and take our customers on the ride with us.

      Macland is located at Laugavegur 23 (101, Downtown Reykjavik)
      For all your Apple needs. We are here.

      Aurora Reykjavik
      - northern lights center

        Aurora Reykjavik is a Northern Lights Center situated in downtown Reykjavík at the Old Harbor next to Icelandair Hotel Marina and Vikin Maritime Museum.

        Aurora Reykjavík is Iceland’s first educational and recreational Northern Lights Center where multimedia is used to explain when, why and how the Northern Lights work, with the highlights being large HD projection of the Aurora’s. We also share myths and legends about what our ancestor thought about those mystical lights.

        The Northern Lights Center is for all ages. Children are our favorite guests and we created the exhibition in a way that children can have a look freely and parents don’t have to worry about things being broken.

        Aurora Reykjavik offers a great selection of souvenirs that are designed and made by Icelanders along with nice little coffee corner, where you can enjoy free coffee and tea while browsing through the souvenirs or just planning your next step.

        Contact Aurora

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        Ísey skyr
        - once tasted never forgotten

        Our Story
        Once upon a time, 1,100 years ago in fact, Nordic settlers began arriving in Iceland. They brought with them the skills and knowledge for producing skyr. As time passed, the know-how and recipe for this nutritious food slowly faded out elsewhere in the Nordic region. Luckily, the Icelandic skyr-making tradition continued.

        For centuries, Icelandic skyr formed a cornerstone of the national diet, helping to keep people strong in living conditions that were often harsh. On family farms countrywide, it was the women who nurtured this dairy and passing on both the recipe and the original Icelandic skyr cultures from mother to daughter.

        Ísey skyr builds on this remarkable legacy. It was some of those very same women, the recipients of their mothers’ expertise, who, around 90 years ago, taught Icelandic dairy scientists the art of skyr-making. The production process is more high-tech these days, and the quality standards more rigorous. However, the basic recipe and the use of original cultures to ferment the skimmed milk remain the same. Protein rich, fat-free, creamy and delicious – Ísey skyr is as relevant to consumers now as it was all those centuries ago.
        This is our secret and you are in on it

        You can read more about Ísey skyr on our website.

        - noodle bar

        Núðluskálin is a small gay owned and operated fusion noodle bar.

        All of our courses are individually made from fresh ingredients and therefore highly customisable.
        We offer fully Vegan versions of all courses.
        Though originally a take-away we now seat over 30 people.

        Núðluskálin is located right in the heart of Reykjavík on Skólavörðustígur 8 (street leading up to the big Church) near the junction with Laugavegur (main street).

        - adventure cruise

        Ferry Baldur – the gate to the West fjords
        and VikingSushi Adventure – Bird & Nature watching Tour for everyone all year around

        The “VikingSushi Adventure” is the right boat tour for travelers who are adventurous and want to experience something new – close up to the nature seafood simply doesn’t come fresher than this! The archipelago area of the Breidafjordur Bay always surprises her visitors during winter or summer with spectacular sights. Where else you get to try delicious fresh scallops and sea urchin roe straight from the ocean served with soy sauce, wasabi and ginger.


        This old volcanic area, characterized by the typical basalt formations of the islands, is the home of countless birds. Here you will also find the strongest currents in Iceland. The VikingSushi Tour takes roughly two hours and our captain is also the tour guide.


        The VikingSushi Tour is a true adventure through incredible nature which should not be missed by any traveler to West Iceland.

        Birds, possible to spot:
        -puffins (from the middle of April until the middle of August)
        -eider ducks
        -white-tailed eagle

        The car ferry Baldur is the bridge to the West fjords via the island Flatey
        Ferry Baldur crosses Breidafjordur Bay daily from Stykkisholmur on the Snæfellsnes peninsula to Brjanslaekur in the north. A ferry ride considerably shortens the route between the south and mid-west of the country and the West Fjords region. It also gives you the opportunity to experience a floating restaurant.

        Take a stopover at the charming island Flatey when you are crossing the bay or go to a day tour to Flatey and back to Stykkishólmur. At Flatey are no cars allowed and between the houses of the 18th century you get the feeling of a journey back in time.

        Contact Us

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