Eye For Film >> Movies >> Backyard (2010) Film Review
Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode
Living in a small, northern community breeds a do it yourself aesthetic. Iceland is a small country which makes a disproportionate noise in the world of independent music. It even has punks in its governing coalition. But Árni Rúnar Hlöðversson of FM Belfast wants to take things one step further. For Reykjavík's annual cultural event he wants to put on his own music festival - in his own backyard.
Despite Árni Rúnar's dreams, it's probably not something that could be done anywhere. He has exceptionally understanding neighbours, especially as the yard in question is a communal one belonging to a block of flats and just across the road from a church. He has only basic equipment but everybody chips in to help out. As the idea catches on, some of the city's biggest bands say they want to take part. And even though circumstances aren't perfect on the day, it feels as if this could be carried through pretty much anything by sheer enthusiasm.
For a thing like this, really, you have to be there. Árni Sveinsson's film is at its weakest when simply watching the show, especially in the early, daylight scenes. The performance area is very small and there's little room for the camera to move; despite playing around with lighting and contrast, Sveinsson isn't inventive enough to work around this. But the interviews with assorted musicians work well and will provide a good record of the scene as times change. Again, there's that infectious enthusiasm, and a strong community spirit.
Musically the film is very varied, with FM Belfast themselves providing the strongest, and final, number. The mixture of gentle ballads, melodic indie tunes and hardcore punk means most viewers will find something they like and the film provides a good introduction to the versatile Icelandic scene, making in interesting to fans and music industry professionals alike. As the day goes on and Sveinsson finds more confidence behind the camera it becomes more visually interesting too. For most viewers it will be a mildly pleasing curiosity, but some will fall in love with it.Reviewed on: 24 Jan 2012
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