Disney Answers Call for Icelandic Subtitles and Dubbing

Lilja Alfreðsdóttir / Minister of Culture and Business Affairs

A Disney representative has answered a letter from Iceland’s Minister of Education and Culture urging the company to add Icelandic-language subbing and dubbing to their streaming service Disney+, which launched in Iceland last year. In a letter to the Minister, Manager of The Walt Disney Company in the Nordic and Baltic regions Hans van Rijn states the company is currently working on adding Icelandic dubbing and subtitles to the service but it will take “a few months” to complete the project.

Iceland’s Minister of Education and Culture Lilja Alfreðsdóttir wrote a letter to Disney CEO Bob Chapek on February 1 urging the company to add Icelandic subtitles and dubbing to its Disney+ streaming service. Disney films and TV shows have been subtitled and dubbed in Icelandic over the past several decades and Disney owns the rights to that material, but it has not been made available on the company’s streaming service, which entered the Icelandic market last September. In her letter, Lilja described the Icelandic language as “the core of the nation’s culture and identity,” adding: “We work hard to maintain it, especially among children and young people who are heavily exposed to other languages daily, mainly English.”

Read More: Icelanders Call on Disney+ to Add Icelandic Subtitles and Dubbing

In his reply, Van Rijn thanked Lilja for her letter, saying Disney “strive[s] to be locally and culturally relevant” in all markets in which it operates, adding that the company had been exploring how to add “more dubbed and subtitled stories in Icelandic” to its service since launching in the country last September. Among the titles that van Rijn says the company will make available in Icelandic in the future are the four Toy Story films, the Cars franchise, The Lion King, WALL-E, and more recent titles such as Frozen 2 and Coco.

In a Facebook post, Lilja described the letter as a “sign of goodwill,” saying she would push for the project to be sped up so Icelandic content would be available even sooner.

Icelanders Call on Disney+ to Add Icelandic Language Subtitles and Dubbing

Lilja Alfreðsdóttir is one of the people nominated for Person of the Year.

Iceland’s Minister of Education and Culture Lilja Alfreðsdóttir has written to Disney’s CEO Bob Chapek urging the company to add Icelandic subtitles and dubbing to its Disney+ streaming service. Disney films and TV shows have been subtitled and dubbed in Icelandic over the past several decades and Disney owns the rights to that material, but it has not been made available on the company’s streaming service, which entered the Icelandic market last September.

In her letter, Lilja describes how she was “disappointed to discover that neither Icelandic dubbing nor subtitles are available on Disney+.” She described the Icelandic language as “the core of the nation’s culture and identity,” adding: “We work hard to maintain it, especially among children and young people who are heavily exposed to other languages daily, mainly English.” The letter is available in full on Lilja’s Facebook page.

Important for Language Preservation

Icelandic actor Jóhannes Haukur Jóhannesson (Game of Thrones) has also been vocal about the service’s omission of Icelandic subtitles and dubbing. “As all of us who have watched it know, Icelandic dubbing [of Disney movies] is absolutely fantastic, and no less so the translations, both of dialogue and lyrics,” Jóhannes stated in a radio interview today. While those subtitles and voiceovers are available on VHS and DVD, they have not been made available on Disney’s new streaming service.

The omission is not a question of rights: all Icelandic translations, subtitles, and dubbing of Disney material was produced under strict contracts ensuring Disney retained the rights to all of the material – worldwide and in all formats. “Disney absolutely owns all of it down to the letter but simply hasn’t gotten around to putting it in [to the streaming service].” Jóhannes says it’s important to pressure the company to do so as soon as possible. “We can’t let it happen after 10 or 15 years, we need to have it now. We have this language that has changed very little in over 1,000 years and is one of the oldest languages in the world that is still spoken and we want to take care of it.”

Jóhannes hopes that other members of Iceland’s government take up their pens to contact Disney on the matter.

Danish Professor Reluctant to Repatriate Icelandic Manuscripts

Arnamagnaean Institute

Around 700 Icelandic manuscripts are kept at the University of Copenhagen. Anne Mette Hansen, assistant professor in Nordic Studies, believes that’s where they should stay. Iceland’s Minister of Education and Culture Lilja Alfreðsdóttir, on the other hand, is hoping to repatriate some of those manuscripts, while Hansen says they are also part of Denmark’s cultural heritage. RÚV reported first.

The University of Copenhagen founded the Arnamagnaean Institute to house the collection Icelandic scholar Árni Magnússon bequeathed the university at his death in 1730. While a 1965 parliamentary ruling divided the important collection between Iceland and Denmark, the Danish Institute still houses many important original manuscripts from Iceland.

“I have been very clear about the fact that we want to repatriate more manuscripts,” Lilja stated recently in an interview for RÚV. The University of Iceland is currently building a new, state-of-the-art facility that will house its existing manuscript collection as well as any manuscripts that may be repatriated.

Hansen says Icelandic manuscripts in the Danish collection are also part of Danish cultural heritage. “They are part of our history,” she told Danish paper BT. “They deal with sagas about Danish kings, from Harald Bluetooth to Canute VI.” She says, however, that it is possible that Iceland could receive the manuscripts on loan once the Icelandic House is completed. “But not all of them.”

While Iceland’s Minister of Education and Culture believes Danish interest in these artefacts of cultural heritage is dwindling and the time has come to bring them back to Iceland, the idea has been controversial among scholars. “From a purely academic point of view, if the manuscripts go home to Iceland, I do not know in what way, if any, it would strengthen scholarship there,” stated Viðar Pálsson, Associate Professor of History at the University of Iceland.

Minister of Education Issues Strong Rebuke of Klaustur MPs

Lilja Alfreðsdóttir is one of the people nominated for Person of the Year.

Icelandic Minister of Education, Science and Culture and Progressive Party MP Lilja Alfreðsdóttir had some strong words about the Klaustur Scandal MPs.

“In their conversation at the Klaustur Bar, it became clear precisely how these MPs think about women,” she wrote on her Facebook page on Thursday morning. “It was truly sad. But even sadder is that these same [MPs] should now, eight months later, still have not come to their senses, but are rather trying to justify their comments. Disappointing that they don’t even have the decency to take a hard look in the mirror. Their comments will be to their lasting disgrace.”

Since it was published, the post has received over 850 likes and been shared 44 times.

Lilja’s post came in the wake of the Parliamentary Ethics Committee’s ruling that two of the six embroiled MPs breached parliamentary ethics with their sexist remarks about fellow politicians. The two MPs found guilty of an ethical breach were Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson and Bergþór Ólason, both of the Centre Party. Both men have contested the ruling.

Lilja was among several female MPs who were the target of sexist and sexually explicit comments made by Gunnar Bragi and Berþór during their recorded conversation at Klaustur Bar last November.

Lilja Alfreðsdóttir is Government’s Most Popular Minister

Lilja Alfreðsdóttir is one of the people nominated for Person of the Year.

A new survey has found that Lilja Alfreðsdóttir, Minister of Education, Science and Culture, is Iceland’s most popular cabinet minister. Stundin notes that no other minister comes close to Lilja’s rating: 67.6% approval, 9.6% disapproval.

Among her recent initiatives, Lilja has proposed the introduction of a bill outlining measures against sexual harassment in sports and youth groups, has suggested a restructuring of the Icelandic school system, and has introduced paid internships for student teachers.

The next most popular minister, with 43.2% approval and 19% disapproval, is Þórdís Kolbrún R. Gylfadóttir, the Minister of Tourism, Industry and Innovation who also temporarily serving as Minister of Justice. Þórdís Kolbrún took over as Minister of Justice in March, when Sigríður Á. Andersen resigned from the position after the European Court of Human Rights ruled that her appointments to the Court of Appeal had been unlawful and impeded individuals’ rights to a fair trial. The survey was taken shortly after Sigríður resigned and so it perhaps comes as no surprise that she was found to be respondents’ least favorite minister, with an approval rating of 13.8% and a disapproval rating of 65.8%.

Bjarni Benediktsson, the Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs has the next highest disapproval rating, 51.6%, although he still has an approval rating of 25%.

Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir had a fairly even approval to disapproval rating: 38.6% said they were happy with her performance; 34.4% said they were dissatisfied.

The survey was conducted by Maskína from March 15 to 27. There were 848 respondents.

 

 

New Game Design Degree Program Unveiled

The Ministry of Education has approved a new BSc degree program in video game design, RÚV reports.

The three-year distance learning program will be offered by the Keilir Institute of Technology in collaboration with the Norway’s Noroff University College’s School of Technology and Digital Media. Face-to-face meetings will be held at Keilir’s Ásbrú campus on the Reykjanes peninsula.

Program director Nanna Traustadóttir says that the game design program has been in development for several years and is meant to compete with similar programs abroad.Initially, the program will enroll around 40 students. Nanna says that the gaming sector is massive and that there will continue to be a great need for people who are proficient in game design in the future.

Nanna is also emphasizes that a lot more goes into game design than many people think. “Creating a video game is, in all reality, creating a whole new world. We’re talking about a story, dramatization, characters—not to mention the enormous amount of work that goes into each individual character. We’re talking about all kinds of computer processing—not just programming, but obviously programming as well.”

Sexual Harassment Bill Forthcoming

Lilja Alfreðsdóttir is one of the people nominated for Person of the Year.

Minister of Education and Culture Lilja Alfreðsdóttir plans to introduce a bill on measures against sexual harassment in sports and youth groups this autumn, RÚV reports. A task force appointed by the Minister in response to the #metoo declaration of Icelandic women in sports presented their suggestions regarding the matter yesterday.

Last winter, many stories of sexual harassment and violence in sports and youth organisations came to light. “It happens to me when I am 16 years old that I’m raped by a handball player on the men’s national team at the time,” Hafdís Inga Hinriksdóttir recounted in a television interview in January.

The task force recommendations include banning the hiring of those with previous convictions for sexual assault, as well as ensuring all staff in sports and youth clubs have a basic knowledge of how to respond when sexual assault cases arise. The recommendations also suggest providing state and municipal funding to support gender equality issues in youth organisations and sports clubs.

“Some of these suggestions have already been implemented in collaboration with UMFÍ (The Youth Group Association of Iceland) and ÍSÍ (The National Olympic and Sports Association of Iceland),” the Minister stated.

“This of course just raises awareness. It means that it’s possible to deal with such matters in a professional and organized manner. And though this is often very difficult and sensitive, it’s possible to deal with, and these suggestions really do,” Lilja stated.