Swedish Academy’s Nordic 2023 Prize Awarded to Icelandic Writer Sjón

sjón iceland author

The Swedish Academy’s 2023 Nordic Prize is awarded to Icelandic author Sjón for his significant contributions to Nordic literature.

The award, to be presented April 12, carries with it a prize of 400,000 SEK [$39,000; €36,000].

Read More: Sjón Withdraws from Iceland Noir Festival

The Swedish Academy works for the promotion of the Swedish language and literature through awards that recognize authors, translators, critics, researchers, teachers, and librarians. The Academy also promotes Nordic and international literature more generally through such prizes.

Known for his poetic and surreal style, Sjón’s best-recognized works include MoonstoneCoDex 1962The Blue Fox, and From the Mouth of the Whale. He has previously been awarded the 2005 Nordic Council Literature Prize, the 2013 Icelandic Literary Prize, among others. His works have been translated into more than 30 languages.

Cinema-goers may also recognize his recent contributions to Lamb, a psychological folk horror film directed by Valdimar Jóhansson, and The Northman, a gritty historical drama directed by Robert Eggers. He is also known for his collaboration with other high-profile artists, including the song text for Björk in the Lars von Trier film, Dancer in the Dark.

Other recent recipients of the literary prize include Karl Ove Knausgård (Norway) in 2019, Rosa Liksom (Finland) in 2020, Eldrid Lunden (Norway) in 2021, and Naja Marie Aidt (Denmark) in 2022.

Read more about the Swedish Academy’s Nordic Prize here.

 

 

 

 

Sjón Withdraws from Literary Festival Due to PM’s Participation

Katrín Jakobs Svandís Svavars Áslaug Arna Sigurbjörns press conference

The Icelandic writer Sjón has announced his withdrawal from this year’s Iceland Noir Festival owing to the participation of Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir. Writing on Twitter yesterday, Sjón cited “the cruel treatment of asylum seekers” by Katrín’s cabinet.

The darkest time of the year

Iceland Noir is a literary festival held in Reykjavík celebrating “darkness in all its forms.” Founded in 2013 by authors Ragnar Jónasson and Yrsa Sigurðardóttir, Iceland Noir began as a celebration of crime fiction but has gradually evolved to welcome writers outside the genre while also including television and film screenings alongside panels.

This year’s festival will be held between November 16 and 19 and will be headlined by Bernardine Evaristo and Richard Osman alongside Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir. Other notable guests include First Lady of Iceland Eliza Reid, English novelist Mark Billingham – and Icelandic writer Sjón.

Yesterday, however, Sjón announced that he was withdrawing from the festival due to the participation of PM Katrín Jakobsdóttir:

Controversial expulsion of asylum seekers

Sjón’s announcement follows on the heels of fifteen asylum seekers being deported from Iceland. Among those deported was a disabled Iraqi, in Iceland with a family of five, whose lawyer has told the media that he is preparing a complaint to the European Court of Human Rights.

The treatment of the man inspired public outcry and a protest was held on Austurvöllur Square, in front of Parliament, at 5.15 PM yesterday. The protest was organised by No Borders Iceland and Solaris (an aid organisation providing assistance to asylum seekers and refugees in Iceland) and was “well attended” according to Vísir.

Katrín Jakobsdóttir spoke to Vísir in response to the public outcry yesterday, maintaining that it was “only natural for people to become upset” whenever force was applied in cases such as these:

“But what we must look into, in particular – and I think that I speak for everyone – is the treatment of the disabled person, who was among those asylum seekers who were deported. It’s extremely important that we take great pains when it comes to vulnerable groups of people and that we ensure that his rights were fully respected.”

Isavia, Iceland’s national airport and air navigation service provider, apologised for hindering the work of photojournalists during the deportations at Keflavík Airport.

Icelandic Film, Lamb, Wins 2022 Nordic Council Film Prize

icelandic film lamb

The 2022 Nordic Council Film Prize, awarded in Helsinki yesterday evening, Tuesday, November 1, has been awarded to the recent Icelandic film, Lamb. Directed by Valdimar Jóhannsson and co-written with notable Icelandic author, Sjón, the folk horror film was described as “a unique story of loss, grief, and fear.”

Hrönn Krisinsdóttir and Sara Nassim were also honoured in their role as producers, with the DKK 300,00 (USD 39,900, EUR 40,300) prize money split evenly between the recipients, reflecting the co-operative nature of filmmaking.

Also present at the ceremony was Finnish PM Sanna Marin, who awarded the prize.

Lamb, starring Noomi Rapace and Hilmir Snær Guðnason, revolves around a farming couple who live in a remote region of Iceland. Supernatural events influence their relationship when one of their sheep gives birth to a human-sheep hybrid.

The film, originally called Dýrið in Icelandic, has already garnered recognition, premiering in the Cannes film festival’s Un Certain Regard section, and taking home the Icelandic Edda award, the official award ceremony for the Icelandic film industry.

The Nordic Council awards five prizes each year for literature, film, music, environmental activism, and youth literature. 

Other recipients of the 2022 prize include Swedish composer Karin Rehnqvist for her work “Silent Earth,” the Norwegian graphic novelist Nora Dåsnes for her work “Ubesvart anrop,” an account of the 2011 terror attacks in Norway, and also the city of Mariehamn in Åland, for its environmental work in preserving its wetlands.

The Northman Premieres in London

the northman film

The Northman, a film written by Icelandic author Sjón and Robert Eggers, premiered in London yesterday. A “Viking revenge movie,” the film also features a few Icelanders, including a brief appearance by Björk. The premiere was well-received, with one critic calling the film “spectacular” and “visually stunning.”

A star-studded cast graces the action-filled epic, including Willem Dafoe, Nicole Kidman, and Alexander Skarsgård as Prince Amleth, the central character. Icelanders Ingvar E. Sigurðsson and Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson also make an appearance in the film.

Björk in The Northman
A screenshot from the official trailer of The Northman / YouTube. Icelandic musician Björk in the role of a seer.

The film follows the life of Prince Amleth, who goes on a quest to avenge his father’s murder. The killer is none other than the prince’s uncle, who also kidnaps the boy’s mother. The script is based on the same Scandinavian folk tale that inspired Shakespeare’s Hamlet.

The Northman premieres in Iceland on April 14.

Of Lamb and Legends

Valdimar Jóhannsson

Valdimar Jóhannsson is not a man of many words, preferring a visual medium to express himself. That’s what shaped his whole approach to his first feature film, Lamb. Years in the making, the film premiered last year at the Cannes Film Festival in the Un Certain Regard section, winning the Originality Prize, going on to garner accolades and become a sleeper hit all over the world. At the time of writing, the film is longlisted for a BAFTA nomination, shortlisted for an Oscar nomination, and has become the highest-grossing Icelandic film ever screened in the US. But it all started with a simple sketch outlining a fantastical figure – a new addition to Iceland’s folklore.

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Lamb to Be Iceland’s 2022 Oscar Submission

lamb dýrið noomi rapace

The Icelandic Film and TV Academy has chosen Lamb to be Iceland’s submission to the 2022 Academy Awards, or Oscars, RÚV reports. Lamb (titled Dýrið in Icelandic) has already snagged two nominations and one award at Cannes and is already the highest-grossing Icelandic film to be screened in the United States.

The film is directed by Valdimar Jóhannsson, who wrote the script alongside Icelandic author Sjón. Lamb stars Noomi Rapace and Hilmir Snær Guðnason, who play María and Ingvar, a childless couple in the Icelandic countryside who discover a mysterious newborn on their farm. While at first, “the unexpected prospect of family life brings them much joy,” it ultimately destroys them.

The jury of the Icelandic Film and TV Academy praised the film’s strong imagery and originality. “From the first moment, the viewer is captured and hypnotizes through a mysterious and exciting adventure,” the jury wrote. Their statement called the film a “careful study of human nature, sorrow, and loss.”

Lamb is currently showing in Icelandic theatres.

Lamb Has Become Highest-Grossing Icelandic Film in US

lamb dýrið noomi rapace 2

Icelandic film Lamb (Dýrið) earned over $1 million [€ 864,000; ISK 130 million] in ticket sales in the United States last weekend, according to Box Office Mojo and has grossed $1.13 million worldwide. It was the seventh most popular film in US theatres last weekend. These figures make the film the highest-grossing of any Icelandic film screened in the US.

Directed by Valdimar Jóhannsson, Lamb is a supernatural drama that follows a childless couple, María and Ingvar, as they “discover a mysterious newborn on their farm in Iceland. The unexpected prospect of family life brings them much joy, before ultimately destroying them,” a plot summary of the film explains. Valdimar wrote the script alongside Icelandic author Sjón.

The film stars Hilmir Snær Guðnason alongside Swedish actress Noomi Rapace, who learned to deliver a lamb for the role. Lamb had its world premiere at the Cannes film festival earlier this year, where it won the Un Certain Regard prize, granted for originality. It is currently showing in Icelandic theatres.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GOQ8QWk1icc&ab_channel=MovieTrailersSource

Icelandic Film “Lamb” Double-Nominated in Cannes

lamb dýrið noomi rapace

An Icelandic supernatural drama directed by Valdimar Jóhannsson, Lamb (Dýrið), received its world premiere yesterday at the Cannes Film Festival in France. The film has been nominated for the festival’s Golden Camera Award as well as the Un Certain Regard Award. It is Valdimar’s first feature film as a director and he told RÚV it is a dream and an honour that the film was chosen for the festival.

Lamb follows a childless couple, María and Ingvar, as they “discover a mysterious newborn on their farm in Iceland. The unexpected prospect of family life brings them much joy, before ultimately destroying them,” according to the film’s plot summary on IMDb. Along with directing, Valdimar wrote the script for the film in collaboration with Icelandic author Sjón.

Learned to deliver a lamb for the role

The film stars Swede Noomi Rapace and Icelander Hilmir Snær Guðnason in the leading roles. Noomi lived in Iceland as a child but this is her first role in Icelandic. The actress revealed that she learned to deliver a lamb for the role. “I was taught by an Icelandic farmer but he went quite fast,” Noomi stated in an interview with France24. “I got a knock, he was like, ‘There’s a lamb coming!’ And I had to run down to the farmhouse and basically put my hands inside of the sheep and pull out a baby lamb.” She called the experience “amazing. I saw life begin and how this amazing, beautiful creature stood up for the first time and started drinking after two or three minutes.”

“We’re just finding our footing after this wonderful reception that the film received,” stated Sara Nassim, one of the film’s producers, after the premiere. “There was a full house and a standing ovation at the end of the screening. We hope people liked the film. All of the responses so far have been very good, there’s been a lot of talk about the film.”

Lamb’s Icelandic premiere is expected this fall.

https://youtu.be/GOQ8QWk1icc

Found in Translation

Books by Yrsa Sigurðardóttir on a shelf.

Are you familiar with Erlendur the detective, Bjartur the sheep farmer, or the lawyer turned amateur sleuth Þóra? If so, you must have read a translation of an Icelandic novel. (If not, you should.) Icelandic literature is spreading around the globe at a rapid pace, while book sales and rates of readership are down in […]

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