Female Icelandic 'Joker' composer makes awards history

Tucked away in a Kreuzberg courtyard in a neighbourhood best known for its Turkish cuisine is Hildur Guonadottir's studio. The 37-year-old Icelandic musician and composer lives a quiet life in Berlin with her husband, 7-year-old son and dog, but after a historic first award win and more nominations flooding in, Guonadottir is spending as much time on L.A.'s red carpets as in her adopted German home.

On January 5, Guonadottir made history by becoming the first solo female Golden Globe winner for best original score for Todd Phillips' "Joker", since the introduction of the category in 1947 - Lisa Gerrard won the 2000 award for Gladiator but in collaboration with Hans Zimmer.

Guonadottir has a BAFTA nomination for the same film, won an Emmy in September for HBO/Sky series "Chernobyl", has been nominated for music's biggest honour, a Grammy for the same series and as of Monday morning is an Oscar nominee for her "Joker" score.

Guonadottir, who is an accomplished cellist and singer and who started training aged four, puts her success down to a spot of luck and the 'big awakening' ushered in by the #metoo movement.

Guonadottir, whose contribution to Phillips' "Joker" went well beyond the traditional role of a score writer, says it would be nice if all these 'milestones' that she is achieving - she is only the 5th female composer to be nominated for the Oscars in 92 years - were no longer considered as such, but is grateful for the chance to be part of the changing landscape.

"If one young girl starts writing music as a result of that then it is totally worth it," Guonadottir said.

Traditionally a film soundtrack is created after the filming has finished. In the case of "Joker", Guonadottir was given the script to work off and ended up directly influencing the film's most iconic moment: the bathroom dance.

Guonadottir's influence on "Joker" is a reflection of the way she approaches her projects. For "Chernobyl", she travelled to Lithuania to record inside a nuclear reactor using the reactor as a musical instrument in an attempt to capture the sound and feel of radiation.

When the awards season is over, Guonadottir who has recently signed on to Deutsche Grammophon and has a solo album coming out says she will take a break from film music and go back to her roots as a musician.

Her albums "Mount A", "Without Sinking" and "Iridescence" were released on January 10, while "Leyfdu Ljosinu" and "Saman" will be released this Friday (January 17).

The Grammy winners will be announced on January 26, the Oscars on February 10.

(Production: Oliver Ellrodt, Lisa Giles-Keddie, Tanya Wood)