Icelander Receives Emmy Recognition

Emmy Award

Sigurjón Friðrik Garðarsson received an Emmy award last weekend as a member of a team from Stormborn Studios. The team won the award for Outstanding Special Visual Effects in a Single Episode for their work on the miniseries Five Days at Memorial on Apple TV+.

The team was chosen from a pool of nominees including popular shows like Wednesday, Ted Lasso and The Umbrella Academy. Sigurjón did not attend the ceremony himself, but watched from home, Vísir reports. “This project came to us two and a half years ago or thereabouts,” Sigurjón said. “It’s about the few days at Memorial hospital in New Orleans after hurricane Katrina hit and the city flooded. Our job was to make the city look submerged.”

Teamwork key to the success

A number of Icelanders have received Emmy recognition in the past, including composers Hildur Guðnadóttir and Ólafur Arnalds. Sigurjón’s role in Stormborn Studios’ team was that of a compositing supervisor. “My job is to make the image look believable, both technically and artistically,” he explained. “I’m sort of a link to the visual effects supervisor who in turn is in contact with the director and producer.”

Sigurjón said that a project of this scale requires teamwork and that many people were involved. “We’re a fairly small studio compared to many others in the field so it’s very fun that the little guy gets recognised as well,” he said, adding that he hasn’t quite taken in the honour yet. “But it’s a great recognition of what we’ve been doing and our work as a team.”

Calls for Iceland to Join South Africa’s Genocide Case

Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir

Some 100 protesters convened outside the Prime Minister’s Residence in Tjarnargata this morning to protest the government’s handling of policy towards Palestine. They criticise authorities for not doing more to bring residents of Gaza who already hold Icelandic visas to the country on the basis of family reunification. The protesters chanted: “The children of Gaza are our children”.

Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir met with protesters outside and sat down with an advocacy group leader to discuss pleas for Iceland to support South Africa’s case against Israel before the International Court of Justice, Mbl.is reports. South Africa has is seeking an emergency suspension of Israel’s military campaign in Gaza.

Public support for Palestine

Katrín met with Hjálmtýr Heiðdal, head of the Association Iceland-Palestine, who handed her a letter from the association along with a copy of South Africa’s charge. “If authorities suspect a genocide in the making, not to mention one already in progress, then it is their duty to step in,” Hjálmtýr told Mbl.is. He added that the best thing that the Icelandic government could do at this point would be to support South Africa’s case. “It is very important to do so right away.”

Hjálmtýr reiterated that Katrín had in the past supported the idea of severing political relations with Israel and added that polls show that three of every four Icelanders support the Palestinian cause. “110 children are being killed every day and it just keeps going,” he said. “They have to try to stop this. South Africa’s case could apply some pressure.”

Activists camped out in front of Alþingi

Local activists slept in tents in front of Alþingi, the Icelandic Parliament, on Saturday night in solidarity with Palestinian protesters who have camped there since December 27. The group has made three demands of Icelandic authorities. Firstly, to carry out the family reunifications for which they have already granted visas. Secondly, a meeting with the Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Minister of Justice, and the Minister of Social Affairs and the Labour Market. Thirdly, to stop the ongoing deportations of Palestinian people in Iceland and grant them international protection.

No Active Whaling Licenses in Iceland

Whaling ships

No Icelandic company has an active whaling license and no applications for one have been submitted to the Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Fisheries, Heimildin reports. The only active whaling company in recent years, Hvalur hf., saw their five-year license expire at the start of the year.

The hunting of whales remains a controversial practice in Iceland and has been protested by several local and international animal rights groups. The Alþingi Ombudsman concluded last week that Minister Svandís Svavarsdóttir did not act in accordance with the law when she temporarily stopped whaling last summer. Svandís announced in June that she would postpone the start of whaling season due to an “unequivocal” opinion on animal welfare produced by the Icelandic Food and Veterinary Authority (MAST).

Vote of no confidence expected

Svandís, a prominent member of the Left-Green Movement, has come under fire by coalition partners and the opposition because of the Ombudsman’s conclusion. She has said that she has not considered resigning as minister. In the RÚV political panel show Silfrið last night, MPs from coalition members the Independence Party and the Progressive Party did not say if they would support her if a motion of no confidence is introduced in Alþingi. Opposition MPs from the People’s Party and the Social Democratic Alliance said that it would not be in their interest to back Svandís up if such a vote comes to pass when Alþingi reconvenes. Centre Party Leader, Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson, has announced that his party will introduce such a motion, Morgunblaðið reports.

The last whaling license was granted to Hvalur hf. in 2019 when a minister from the Independence Party was in charge of the issue. When the shortened whaling season eventually began in August last year, Hvalur went on to catch 24 fin whales. Kristján Loftsson, the CEO of Hvalur hf., has said that he will sue for damages for the delay.

Future of whaling unclear

Andrés Ingi Jónsson, MP for the Pirate Party, introduced a bill in Alþingi last year to ban whaling. It has not come to a vote, but has received 3,500 reviews from the public and advocacy groups, 2,000 more than have ever been submitted on any other policy issue. It is unclear whether the ministry would grant a new whaling license with Svandís in charge. She has said that the legislation on the issue needs updating and that the Ombudsman’s conclusion will help guide future policy-making on whaling.