Sólveig Anspach, the award-winning Icelandic-French filmmaker, has died after a long battle with breast cancer. She was 54.
A prolific writer-director of feature films and documentaries, Anspach was honored at the Cannes Film Festival in 2001 for her Made in the USA, a searing exploration of an execution in Texas. Her Queen of Montreuil took home the Audience Award at the 2011 Reykjavik International Film Festival, and she won the best director award at the Ghent International Film Festival in 1999 for Haut les Coeurs!
“She was a brilliant filmmaker, a dear colleague, a generous friend,” said WGA West vice president Howard Rodman. “Sólveig grew up in France, attended l’IDHEC/La Femis, and made films, many films, glorious and gloriously diverse. There was a documentary on a death-row inmate in Texas; a comedy of manners set in the marijuana-dealing community of Reykjavik and its sequel; a biopic of Paris Commune heroine Luise Michel. Perhaps her most well-known film here, the 1999 Haut les Coeurs!, won a César for its lead Karin Viard. It’s a quietly harrowing, deeply moving film about a woman who while pregnant discovers that she has breast cancer. Sadly, it was autobiographical.”
Rodman told Deadline her disease had been in remission, but that when it reoccurred, she “never stopped living, stopped working. I visited her on the set of Lulu Femme Nue in Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie where she was not about to let debilitating chemotherapy stand in the way of cinema.”
“Most of us, most of the time,” he said, “we think that the glory of a life spent in filmmaking is that we get to make films, with the community and friendships that grow from that as a lovely collateral bonus. But on mornings like this — and especially, thinking of Sólveig — I sometimes wonder if that community, those friendships, are the true reward, and the films just the fine machineries that enable and sustain those bonds among us.”