Iceland-born, London-based filmmaker Borkur Sigthorsson brings his accomplished thriller Come To Harm to Encounters.


There are hundreds of shorts screening at the Encounters Film Festival (Nov 16-20) in Bristol, but surely one standout will be an 18-minute expertly crafted Icelandic thriller, Come To Harm, which is screening as part of the Future Encounters showcase.

It marks the second short from Iceland-born, London-based filmmaker Borkur Sigthorsson, a photographer who started working in London in 2004 on music videos and commercials (he is newly signed with commercials agency Generator Films).

The story is about a stressed Icelandic businessman, with problems at home and work, who thinks there is an intruder in his home.

The genesis of the idea was the true story of a barrister, Mark Saunders, who began shooting from his home in Chelsea, London in 2008. “I was really intrigued by what could put a person in that situation. The story developed from there,” Sigthorsson tells Screen. He was also inspired by the financial collapse, which hit Iceland especially hard — “There were all these well-to-do people whose priorities got fucked up before the bubble burst.”

The film shot (on 16mm) over two shoots — one for 2 days, one for 5 days. The team shot in a section of Reykjavik where 200 new houses were built during the bubble. “Only about 50 are inhabited now, it’s like a ghost town,” the writer/director explains. “We shot the whole film in areas that are representative of that bubble.”


The Icelandic Film Centre backed the project. “Iceland is a small country, you can get a lot of things done in Iceland that you can’t get done in London. There is a support system there in place,” he notes. Sigthorsson was also able to work with former collaborators, like his old friend Björn Thors who delivers a captivating lead performance. “He didn’t have a lot of actors to bounce off of, so it was up to him to maintain that intensity of his performance.”

The short has the accomplished air of a feature. “I always intended it as a short, I like watching films that have a much bigger world than what you’re seeing,” Sigthorsson says.

He’s now developing his first feature script, which he says will also be a thriller, “set in a similar environment, structured a similar way, but a completely different story.” That will ideally shoot in Iceland in late 2012 or early 2013.

Come To Harm has already won best short at the Reykjavik International Film Festival and has also been selected for the Leuven International Short Film Festival in December. Sigthorsson’s first short Support also won a number of festival prizes and has also been a hit on YouTube (view here).

See the Come To Harm trailer here.