Series Adaptation of Ragnar Jónasson’s The Darkness Slated for Production in Iceland

Ragnar Jónasson

CBS Studios announced yesterday that their first project with the recently launched Stampede Ventures International, whose mission is to source, acquire and develop premium scripted content for the international market, will be an eight-episode series adaptation of Ragnar Jónasson’s best-selling book The Darkness, from his Hulda series of crime novels. The series is targeted for production in Iceland and Truenorth Productions, who recently produced “The Valhalla Murders” for Netflix are also a part of the project.

According to the press release, ““The Darkness” is an eight-episode, one-hour crime drama set in Iceland that centres around Hulda Hermannsdottir, a detective who is bracing for retirement by year’s end but is blindsided when she’s told she has two weeks to clean up her desk and start her “new life” months earlier than expected. To fill her remaining time, she’s given a cold case to keep busy – reviewing the files about a young Russian woman who washed up on a remote Icelandic beach. A quiet death in a watery grave to which no one paid any mind. Hulda will begin to question those closest to her, no matter the cost.” The book has been a hit in several countries, topping bestseller lists for weeks at a time in Germany and France and doing well in the UK and US as well.

Ragnar Jónasson’s books have been published in 27 languages in 40 countries and sold about a million and a half copies worldwide but this is the first time one of his works receives a live-action adaption. He says he’s thrilled about the news and not scared in the least to let others adapt his work. “I sold the rights to Stampede a year or two ago so this has been out of my hands for a while. I don’t know the details but it’s an exciting project and set to be produced in Iceland. ” The casting will be a surprise to him as well but he says he’s never pictured Hulda as a specific actress. “I’ve written her at different periods in her life so I don’t have a specific face in mind.” He’s happy for the fans of Icelandic thrillers and the Nordic noir genre all over the world. “Its popularity doesn’t seem to be waning in the least, despite what some people have predicted,” Ragnar says.

Ragnar’s latest book will be published in Iceland in October and is not a part of the Hulda series but the Dark Iceland series. Readers in other countries won’t have to wait long as the book is already out in French under the title Sigló and will be out in the UK later this year as Winterkill.

In addition to Ragnar’s successful career as a thriller writer of more than a dozen novels, he also holds down a day job in Arion bank’s corporate finance division. He says it isn’t hard at all to have two separate careers. “I enjoy going to work, I work with a fun group of people. But I often get plenty busy with writing at night.”

COVID-19 in Iceland: Reykjavík Bars May Face Tighter Restrictions

Blaðamannafundur Covid-19 Corona Flensa Almannavarnir Ríkislögreglustjóri

The next few days will reveal whether Iceland’s recent spike in domestic COVID-19 cases is the beginning of a third wave, Chief Epidemiologist Þórólfur Guðnason stated. Iceland reported 19 new domestic cases yesterday and 13 the day before, representing a marked spike from recent weeks. One third of the cases have been linked to a downtown bar, while several others have been linked to the University of Iceland and Reykjavík University.

Stricter Measures Would Be Localised to Capital Area

Þórólfur made the remark at today’s COVID-19 briefing, held by Icelandic authorities in Reykjavík. In light of the rise in case numbers, the Chief Epidemiologist stated he would be recommending stricter restrictions for venues with liquor licences, i.e. restaurants and bars. His suggestions will be sent to the Health Minister today or tomorrow. As all of the new cases have arisen in the capital area, any measures implemented would likely be localised to that region.

A number of the new domestic cases have revealed a new strain of the virus, which arrived in Iceland via two tourists in August who were meant to be in quarantine. Most of the new cases that have arisen are among people around or under 30. One factor that will be considered in determining the level of restrictions imposed will be the severity of cases, stated Þórólfur. The current average age of those infected in the country is relatively young, at 39 years, which is one likely reason that only a single patient with COVID-19 is currently hospitalised.

Most Important to Stay Home if You’re Sick

At the briefing, both Þórólfur and Chief Superintendent Víðir Reynisson underlined the importance of individual preventative measures such as social distancing and handwashing. The most important preventative measure, stated Þórólfur, is staying home if you have any symptoms at all. “These actions are much more likely to be effective than rules and regulations from the government,” he stated. Víðir directed his words to employers, urging them to tell their staff to stay home if they are sick.

Iceland Review live-tweets COVID-19 briefings in English on our Twitter account, linked below.

South Iceland Establishes Symphony Orchestra

A new symphony orchestra has been established in South Iceland, the region’s first. The orchestra’s first public performances were for primary school students in Þorlákshöfn, Hveragerði, and Reykholt, as Vísir reports. The program opened with the James Bond theme song, which had children bouncing in their seats.

The orchestra contains 14 instrumentalists, all of whom live in the region. Its conductor Guðmundur Óli Gunnarsson lives in Selfoss and has plenty of relevant experience when it comes to building up a new orchestra: Guðmundur worked with SinfoniaNord, North Iceland’s symphony orchestra, from its founding for 23 years. Guðmundur hopes to build up regular concerts with the South Iceland Orchestra in the region.

Symphonic ensembles seem to be blossoming outside the capital area in recent years. A symphony orchestra was established in East Iceland just under two years ago, while Guðmundur’s former employer SinfoniaNord is now sought-after as a film orchestra, recording soundtrack music for Hollywood films remotely.

Trapped Season 3: Filming Begins in North Iceland

Ófærð (Trapped)

Filming of the third season of Icelandic crime drama Trapped (Ófærð) is scheduled to begin shortly in Siglufjörður, North Iceland, trolli.is reports. Between 60 and 80 people will be working on the shoot, which is to take place between September 24 and October 9. Both season one and two of the popular show were filmed in part in Siglufjörður.

All cast and crew will be staying at hotels and guesthouses in the town of 1,174. One scene will be filmed at the Siglufjörður swimming pool, which will be closed to the public for the duration of filming. The gym and sports facilities at the same location will remain open.

Iceland’s largely successful response to COVID-19 has made it possible for many large-scale film projects to go ahead as planned this year. Regulations have been put in place, however, to minimise the risk of transmission. Presently, production companies in Iceland must apply for a special filming permit that allows actors to be exempted from distancing rules. A COVID safety supervisor must be on set at all times, and makeup and costuming staff are required to wear masks, as is the film crew in spaces where distancing cannot be maintained. Cast and crew will all have their temperature taken daily when arriving on set.

The Trapped team has been working on the show’s third season since as early as December 2018.