14 Invested with the Order of the Falcon

president of iceland Guðni Th. Jóhannesson

President Guðni Th. Jóhannesson awarded 14 individuals with the Order of the Falcon at the presidential residence, Bessastaðir, this New Year’s Day.

The award is the highest public honour in Iceland and is given out twice annually, on New Year’s Day, and June 17, Iceland’s National Day. The Order of the Falcon recognizes contributions to Icelandic society in a number of fields, including charity, scholarship, art, science, and leadership. The award is Iceland’s only order of chivalry and was founded in 1921 by King Christian X of Denmark.

Among the recipients of the order this year include actress Nína Dögg Filippusdóttir for her contributions to drama and television, epidemiologist Unnur Anna Valdimarsdóttir for her research, and systems engineer Örn S. Kaldalóns for his promotion of the Icelandic language in the tech sector.

A full list of this year’s recipients can be found here, in Icelandic.


Daði Einarsson Wins BAFTA Award

The Witcher / Twitter

Icelander Daði Einarsson has won a BAFTA award for Special, Visual, and Graphic Effects in the Netflix show The Witcher. Daði won the award alongside his colleagues Gavin Round, Aleksander Pejic, Oliver Cubbage, Stefano Pepin, and Jet Omoshebi. The Witcher also won in the category of Make-up and Hair Design at the annual awards last night, held by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts.

Daði is a visual effects supervisor known for his work on the films Everest (2015), Gravity (2013) and Adrift (2018). He was the executive visual effects supervisor for ten episodes of Trapped between 2015-2016. His credits also include two Harry Potter movies, where he worked as an animator and visual effects supervisor.

Daði is not the first Icelander to win a BAFTA award. Musicians Ólafur Arnalds and Hildur Guðnadóttir have both won BAFTAs, for their composing in the TV series Broadchurch and the film Joker, respectively.

Icelandic Singer Dísella Lárusdóttir Wins Grammy

Dísella Lárusdóttir

Classical singer Dísella Lárusdóttir was awarded a Grammy last night in the Best Opera Recording category. Dísella snagged the award for a live recording of Philip Glass’ opera Akhnaten. The opera was written in 1983 and is about the life and religious convictions of Egyptian pharaoh Akhenaten.

Dísella (b. 1977) is a critically-acclaimed soprano, who has performed in New York’s Metropolitan Opera as well as in Italy. The New York Times has used the words “beauty, ease, and artistry” to describe her singing, as well as calling it “reliably breathtaking.”

Icelandic musician Ólafur Arnalds was also nominated for two Grammies this year, in the categories of Best Arrangement, Instrument and Vocals, and Best Dance/Electronic Recording.

Dísella Lárusdóttir / Instagram.

Nordic Noir Author Arnaldur Indriðason Awarded

Best-selling Nordic noir author Arnaldur Indriðason was awarded the Jónas Hallgrímsson Prize yesterday. The award is given annually on November 16, Icelandic Language Day, to individuals whose work has helped the Icelandic language flourish through writing, teaching, or scholarship. Arnaldur’s books have sold over 14 million copies worldwide and have been translated into 40 languages.

Arnaldur is a prolific writer whose crime fiction books are popular in Iceland as well as abroad. In 2006, his novel Jar City was made into a film directed by Baltasar Kormákur. On receiving the award yesterday, Arnaldur stated that he was accepting it on behalf of all crime fiction writers in Iceland. “I believe the award is also a recognition of the branch of literature of which I have been a representative for about a quarter of a century and has flourished in our literary flora in recent years,” he stated.

Podcast host Vera Illugadóttir also received special recognition at the ceremony. Vera is the creator of the Icelandic-language podcast series Í ljósi sögunnar, produced by RÚV. The podcast presents global history in a gripping, narrative format, often telling of historic events that have rarely been written about in Icelandic.

The Garden Sweeps Up at Iceland’s Edda Awards

gullregn the garden Icelandic film

Iceland’s Edda Awards ceremony took place last night, handing out accolades to the best film and television produced last year. Ragnar Bragason’s film The Garden (Gullregn) swept up at the ceremony, taking home 9 awards from its 12 nominations. The film won in the categories Best Film, Best Director, Best Script, and Best Actress.

The Garden tells the story of Indíana (Sigrún Edda Björnsdóttir), who lives in a council estate, where she tends to an award-winning tree. Her world is turned on its head when her son Jónas (Eyþór Gunnlaugsson) turns up with a foreign girlfriend (Karolina Gruszka).

Another notable winner was the Stöð 2 TV series RAX Augnablik, focusing on the career of photographer Ragnar Axelsson. Ólafur Darri Ólafsson of Trapped fame took home the Best Actor award for the leading role in The Minister (Ráðherrann). Comedian Ari Eldjárn’s Netflix special Pardon My Icelandic took home the award for Best Comedy Show.

The Icelandic trailer for The Garden can be seen below.

Fourteen Awarded Order of the Falcon

Icelandic President Guðni Th. Jóhannesson awarded 14 individuals with the Order of the Falcon yesterday, June 17 (Icelandic National Day). The Order of the Falcon is the only chivalric order in Iceland, originally founded by King Christian X of Denmark and Iceland on July 3, 1921. Honorees are selected by the President of Iceland and a five-member council.

This year’s recipients include ornithologist and falcon enthusiast Ólafur Karl Neilsen for his research into Icelandic birdlife; former Governor of the Central Bank Már Guðmundsson for his work on behalf of the government; producer and activist Rakel Garðarsdóttir for her efforts on raising awareness of food waste and environmental issues; and filmmaker Egill Eðvarsson, for his contributions to television programming and Icelandic cinema.

Complete List of Honorees:

  1. Már Guðmundsson, economist and former Governor of the Central Bank
  2. Dagný Kristjánsdóttir, professor of Icelandic literature
  3. Edda Jónsdóttir, visual artist and gallerist
  4. Egill Eðvarðsson, filmmaker
  5. Felix Valsson, anaesthetist and intensive care physician
  6. Jón Kristinn Cortez, choir director and music instructor
  7. Lára Stefánsdóttir, headmaster
  8. Margrét Kristmannsdóttir, former Deputy Chair of SA (Confederation of Icelandic Enterprise)
  9. Ólafur Flóvenz, geologist
  10. Ólafur Karl Nielsen, ornithologist and Chair of BirdLife Iceland
  11. Páll Halldórsson, pilot-in-command
  12. Rakel Garðarsdóttir, activist
  13. Rósa Björg Jónsdóttir, library and information specialist
  14. Þorbjörg Helgadóttir, former dictionary editor at the Arnamagnæan Institute in Copenhagen.


The award is bestowed twice a year, on January 1 and June 17.

Icelandic Short Film Nominated for Oscar

yes people short animated film

Icelandic animated short film Yes People (Já-fólkið), directed by Gísli Darri Halldórsson, has been nominated for a 2021 Oscar award for Best Animated Short Film. The film follows the lives of several different individuals who, according to the trailer description, face “the everyday battle – such as work, school and dishwashing. As the day progresses, their relationships are tested and ultimately their capacity to cope.” RÚV reported first.

Yes People has already been awarded at film festivals across Europe, including Spain’s Weird International Animation Festival, where it won Best European Short Film, and the Uppsala Short Film Festival, where it won the Audience Award.

The film’s script only contains a single word: , or “yes.” Gísli has stated that his inspiration for the film was how intonation and expression affect the meaning of words. “I was thinking about languages and how we have dictionaries where words are explained but we also have another layer of language where you have intonation and expression and you can say the same word but if you change the intonation it can have the opposite meaning. I found that really fascinating.”

The 2021 Academy Awards will be presented on April 26, 2021.

Composer Hildur Guðnadóttir Wins Second Grammy Award

Hildur Guðnadóttir grammy award

Icelandic composer Hildur Guðnadóttir added a Grammy to the plethora of awards she has received for her original music in the film Joker last night. She accepted the award virtually from her home in Berlin. Hildur won in the same category last year for her soundtrack for the HBO series Chernobyl. The two scores have earned her a Golden Globe, BAFTA, Oscar, Emmy and several other awards over the past year.

When asked how she would celebrate the win, Hildur responded: “It’s getting kind of late over here so I’m going to celebrate by tucking my son into bed and going to sleep myself,” Hildur laughed. “And maybe getting myself a little bit of bite of tiramisu since my dog ate my bowl that I left on the table when I popped out of the room.”

She gave some words of advice to aspiring film composers as well. “Really listen to what it is that you personally have to say and follow that, and follow through with that, even though it might take a little bit longer to go down that route, people are going to hear you in the end if you stay true to that.”

Iceland Review interviewed Hildur about the making of Joker and Chernobyl.

Author Gerður Kristný Receives Jónas Hallgrímsson Award

Gerður Kristný Icelandic writer

Writer Gerður Kristný received the 2020 Jónas Hallgrímsson Award yesterday at a ceremony streamed live from Reykjavík’s Harpa Concert Hall. The award is bestowed annually on November 16, Icelandic Language Day, to an individual for their contributions to the Icelandic language.

Gerður has published books in a variety of genres including poetry, novels, short stories, and children’s literature. She previously worked as a journalist and editor. In 2011, she was nominated for the Nordic Council Literature Prize for her poetry book Blóðhófnir (Bloodhoof). The book and other works of hers have been translated into English, including her poetry collection Sálumessa (En. Reykjavík Requiem) and her fiction work Smartís (Smarties).

In her acceptance speech, Gerður described the Icelandic language as “a friend,” saying she wasn’t concerned about her survival. “I’m very close to her in my work and I am not worried about her, I know that she’s doing fine.” She added, however, that it was important to take care of Icelandic “like everything one cares about. This responsibility has always given me joy. I believe there’s a responsibility in being an Icelandic poet and writing in Icelandic and having written texts that foreigners want to translate into their own language. There are plenty of foreigners who want to translate our books into their languages. We must be doing something right.”

Vigdís Finnbogadóttir Awarded at Women Leaders Forum

Vigdís Finnbogadóttir

Former President of Iceland Vigdís Finnbogadóttir has received the 2020 POWER, TOGETHER Award for her role in making the pink ribbon the globally-recognised symbol of breast cancer. Former US Diplomat Nancy G. Brinker, a breast cancer awareness advocate, is the other recipient of the award this year. The award was (virtually) presented to Vigdís today during this month’s Reykjavík Global Forum Women Leaders conference.

Breast Cancer Survivor

Vigdís was the first woman to be democratically elected as a Head of State in the world. She served as Iceland’s President from 1980-1996. Today she remains the longest-serving elected female head of state of any country.

Vigdís was a single mother and ran for president not long after surviving breast cancer. During her campaign, she was asked many personal questions, for example whether having just one breast would hamper her ability to lead the country. Her powerful response was “I never planned to breastfeed the nation.”

Global Forum Champions Women Leaders

According to a press release from Women Political Leaders, the organisation behind the POWER, TOGETHER Awards, they “recognise women for their distinguished commitments to set aside differences and come together to ensure a better future, because no sustainable change can be reached in isolation.”

The Reykjavík Global Forum was launched in November 2018 in Reykjavík, Iceland. This year the forum features Hillary Clinton, former Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard and current WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. The Forum is co-hosted by Women Political Leaders (WPL) and the Government and Parliament of Iceland.