Virtual Cinema | An Icelandic Dairy Farmer Challenges Local Corruption in “The County” May 20, 2021
“Arndís Hrönn Egilsdóttir’s performance is stoic and watchful, like an animal listening for predators whose howls grow nearer.” —Empire magazine
In The County, a drama set in a small Icelandic farming community, middle-aged dairy farmer Inga (a mesmerizing Arndís Hrönn Egilsdóttir) rebels against the all-powerful local Cooperative. She tries to get other farmers to join her in rising up against the Co-op’s corruption, but she encounters great resistance, forcing her to confront the community’s loyalty to this dominant enterprise. Inga must use her resourcefulness and cunning to break free of the Co-op’s grasp if she is to live life on her own terms.
A Male-Dominated Industry
Iceland is the last place on earth to be settled by humans, and today more than 60 percent of the population lives in the capital city, Reykjavik. Less than 5 percent of the population is engaged in agriculture, a male-dominated industry. As Inga strives to rescue her community, she discovers that having principles matters more than living off the land.
Director Grímur Hákonarson notes that women have recently become more present in running their own farms, and that some men still have trouble accepting that fact. He says the second layer of The County explores the conflict, inspired by the general discussion within the entertainment industry about the role of women in films.
Old Values vs. Modern Society
Hákonarson’s award-winning 2015 film Rams focused on two estranged brothers from a sheep-farming community. Their isolation and loneliness portrayed on screen represent changes in rural Iceland. The head of the Co-op in The County talks about the area becoming a place for tourists and their summer cottages. Hákonarson says “that development has traditional farming under attack. In most of my movies, maybe that’s the main subject: old Icelandic values versus capitalism and modern society.”
About the Author
Tracy Stephenson is the Museum’s film coordinator and assistant programmer.
Underwriting for the Film Department is provided by Tenaris and the Vaughn Foundation. Generous funding is provided by Nina and Michael Zilkha; The Consulate General of the Republic of Korea; Franci Neely; Carrin Patman and Jim Derrick; Lois Chiles Foundation; ILEX Foundation; L’Alliance Française de Houston; and The Foundation for Independent Media Arts.