Woman at War (Kona fer i strio)

24/11/2022 19:00.
Cert 12

Icelandic actor turned director Benedikt Erlingsson (Of Horses and Men, 2013) is the guiding spirit behind this enjoyable
environment activism film. Though shot in a lighthearted manner, it nevertheless has great emotional and political depth.
The offbeat screenplay by Erlingsson and Olafur Eglisson translates across all national borders.

Dir: Benedikt Erlingsson, Iceland/France/Ukraine, 101 mins, 2018.

Programme Notes

Fifty year old Halla (Halldora Geirharosdottir) lives in a small industrial town in Iceland where she leads a double life, overtly as a respectable choir conductor and covertly as a passionate environmental activist trying to save the planet’s ecology. She is known to others in her movement only by her alias ‘Woman of the Mountain’. The industrial enemy is the local aluminium factory which has contracted a Chinese energy conglomerate to help it expand its smelting operation – without taking any steps to protect the environment.

Fearing the destruction of the surrounding landscape and faced with a government response that is both uncaring and mealy-mouthed, Halla decides on a singular act of sabotage to stop the new operation. Catching the imagination of the country at large, she becomes a national heroine, although the police continue to pursue her as a serious threat to national security. At the same time, she is in the process of adopting a little Ukrainian girl and, with introspection, wonders if her ardent radicalism is a substitute for not being a mother.

Woman at War navigates its quirky narrative with a blend of comedy, dramatics and an odd strain of band music, featuring Davo por Jonsson’s unique tuba playing and some pleasant Ukrainian folk songs. Through a number of vignettes set in Iceland’s beautiful landscapes, this timely story unfolds – but never loses its dramatic heft despite its whimsical underlying comedy.

Garlanded with 22 award nominations and 29 festival and national awards, the film’s most prestigious prize was the SACD Screenwriting Award for Benedikt Erlingsson and Olafur Eglisson at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival.


Superb cinematography, pacey, light, thought-provoking with humour and beautiful Iceland as well

Heart-warming and (with a) very ingenious plot. At least the hot water stream revived Ophelia!

An uplifting fable – very enjoyable

Very gripping – edge-of-the-seat stuff. It gave me some ideas on how to save the world!

Excellent film – very gripping

Too quirky and too long!


A:11, B:2, C:3, D:1, E:0 to give 84% from 100% of those present.