Baltasar Kormákur is one of Iceland’s most celebrated filmmakers, having been chosen four times to represent Iceland in the Best Foreign Language Film category at the Oscars. This year Iceland’s entry is his new film “The Deep,” based on the real life tale of a fisherman who becomes a local hero after surviving in the freezing ocean against all odds after his boat capsizes off the country's south coast.
Iceland has only been nominated once before at the Oscars, for Fridrik Thor Fridriksson’s “Children of Nature” in 1991 (which lost to the Italian film “Mediterraneo”). However, Kormákur is as determined as ever. “I’ll just keep on trying until I get that nomination!” he says with a laugh.
Like most small budget foreign language films, the exposure that follows Oscar recognition is the main reason for why a nomination is so highly prized. “Apart from the honor, you’re more likely to be seen,” agrees Kormákur.
“The Deep” is an “immensely personal” story, according to Kormákur, as the film flashes back to historical events in Iceland’s past as the shipwreck’s sole survivor drifts alone in the bitterly cold North Atlantic Ocean.
For Kormákur, the film’s real life story is dear to his heart, and also allows him to comment on the woes that befell his country during the recent Icelandic economic collapse. “This was a shipwreck for the nation,” he explains. “We kind of lost our ways. Our fathers and grandfathers were sailors and farmers, and then we became businessmen and computer moguls and whatever and we lost sight of who we were.”