Darren Aronofsky’s latest feature film, Noah, premiered with festivities in Reykjavik, Iceland, including a benefit concert featuring Bjork and Patti Smith. The concert, also featuring Lykke Li, Of Monsters and Men, Mammut, Samaris, Retro Stefson and Highlands, banked over $300,000 for Icelandic Environmental Organizations. Aronofsky, who organized the show along with Bjork, is reported to have joined the artists and rapped on stage. Whether or not the Brooklyn-bred director can be spotted among the whole line-up in the closing number is not specified by the source, but a keen eye might possibly determine that from the video.
A part of the premiere festivities, the concert, held in Harpa Concert Hall, was timed to follow the screening at Egilsbio, allowing for a full afternoon and evening schedule for attendees of both events. The inspiration to the environmental benefit event is reported to be a line of recently proposed policy changes by the Icelandic government. The changes are by many considered to be anti-conservationist.
Among the list of hit songs, performed by Smith, was a cover of late Lou Reed’s Perfect day. In addition to the musical performance, the rocker also spoke out to the audience, addressing the issues of industrial development in the Icelandic highlands, further rousing the audience to action against that progression.
As some may have noticed, Iceland’s untouched landscape has contributed to film sets for several Hollywood features in the last decade, and the interest for cinematic endeavor on the arctic island seems to be growing among Hollywood studios as well as independent productions.
Prior to 2004, Jokulsarlon had served the action of James Bond and Lara Croft, but since then, Clint Eastwood’s Flags of our Fathers and Letters from Iwo Jima, science fictions like Oblivion, Prometheus and Interstellar, as well as the epic, Noah, among others, have featured the country’s scenery. In Ben Stiller’s inspirational film, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, Iceland serves a character in the story itself and the town of Stykkisholmur also plays the part of Nuuk, the capital of Greenland. Being a location in the script itself, the town of Stykkisholmur is ironically played by another town.
Patti Smith, a frequent visitor and admirer of Iceland, first visited the country in the 1960s. While appreciating to find most of the environment remaining intact throughout the decades, the rocker still points out that many beautiful places dwelling in memories from back then have been ruined by human expansion and development. Further adding to that, Smith emphasizes that Mother Nature needs a sanctuary that remains untouched, to feel loved and appreciated. Iceland is one of the very few of those potential places around the world that can cater to that, yet once the damage is done, it’s irreversible.
Bjork has advocated environmental awareness in Iceland for quite some time, so those who have been observing that would perhaps not consider the event surrounding the Noah premiere an unexpected move from the established Icelandic singer. To others, reflecting back on the Academy Awards of 2001, and the swan dress that has become iconic in the history of the Oscars, this might perhaps seem a bit of an ordinary approach for such an imaginative artist.
The benefit concert, titled Let’s Protect the Park, also featured a combined effort closing number as the artists joined hands in a cover of Beastie Boys’ Sabotage, as they completed the Bjork and Aronofsky arranged event packed with Noah, music and environmental awareness. The first video features an Audience POV recording of Sabotage, and the second one includes a lengthy audio recording of the full show with the missing parts listed in the Youtube description.
By Halldor Fannar Sigurgeirsson