Tag Archives: cinema

Series “Lights, camera, action! – Brief history of the Swedish cinema” / Part 1: The outset

Some weeks ago I had the chance to write a post about the Göteborg Film Festival, meant for not only highlighting the main features of the event, but also as an expression of my passion regarding the cinematic world. I’ve decided to give more room to this passion, by combining it with my experience in Sweden; that’s why this piece is the first one of the series called “Lights, camera, action! – Brief history of the Swedish cinema”.

It’s been a while that I’ve wanted to get to know better the cinematic reality of this Scandinavian country. Of course I’ve heard about Ingmar Bergman – probably one of the most famous Swedish (and worldwide) filmmakers. What I ignored was that behind his name there is as well a huge legacy of filmmakers and actors that made Swedish cinema remarkably rich and well-known at an international level.

Greta Garbo, one of the first famous Swedish actresses, known worldwide. Source: www.cameralook.it

Over the course of the past two centuries, Sweden has gone through different phases of its history. As many countries between the end of the 19th and the outset of the 20th century, the overall economic and societal situation was mostly shaped by an agrarian perspective, strictly linked to the precepts of the Lutheran Protestantism. This was the context in which the first public projection took place, precisely in Malmö, in 1896. From that moment on, people working in the cinema industry would have played a fundamental role within the Swedish society.

Numa Wilhelm Peterson and Ernest Florman are the very first two names that we have to keep in mind when it comes to dealing with the dawn of the Swedish cinema. Both of them collaborated and gave birth to the first production, a collection of newsreels. But in 1897, Peterson, who was the owner of photographic supplier companies, produced “The Barber’s Shop in the Village”, made by Florman. Swedes were in front of the first-ever Swedish film drama. Other short films came up, among these the one called “Slagsmål i Gamla Stockholm (A Battle in Old Stockholm)”, a particular one because its aim was to recreate an old 17th century Stockholm setting; proper costumes were also used, by the way.

  Numa Peterson and Ernest Florman. Source: http://www.victorian-cinema.net

In less than ten years, a cinematic mania pervaded the entire country. Many towns started establishing their own cinemas. One of the outcomes was also the foundation of a film production company by a bookkeeper, Gustav Bjösrkman, and his boss Nils Hansson Nylander, in 1905. Starting being active from two years later, the AB Svensk Biografteatern was essential in giving the push to a new era of the Swedish cinema, renowned as “The golden age”.

Are you still there? I know, too many historical facts and names that you (probably) have never heard of before, but hey: this is how the fascinating process that led to Ingmar Bergman and other famous personalities began – and I hope I can convey that feeling to you, since along with the passion for cinema, I’m mixing the one regarding history, too. So, let’s not lose the thread, going towards the end of the first part of this series of pieces full of past memories, old cameras and black&white backgrounds.

Where were we? Yes, a new film production company was born. Apparently, they were missing one important member, one capable of managerial skills and creativity. Here came the moment of Charles Magnusson, another name to remember. Known for his ability to film important public events in Denmark and Sweden, he started building an image in the relative business. He owned a laboratory and some cinemas in Gothenburg, the city where he came from. In 1908, the choice of Svensk Biografteatern could not be other than signing Magnusson. That turned out to be a decisive moment for the new established industry.

Charles Magnusson. Source: Wikipedia

We’ll have the chance to talk a bit more about what Magnusson did in order to boost the film industry, and we’ll see that his management will prove to be extremely crucial to the development of what it was defined as the aforementioned “golden age” of the Swedish cinema.

Stay tuned for the second part of the series “Lights, camera, action!”. To be continued…


Featured image: “The Seventh Seal”, by Ingmar Bergman. Source: http://www.originalprop.com/blog/2009/09/28/chess-pieces-from-ingmar-bergmans-the-seventh-seal-sold-by-bukowskis-in-sweden-for-144000-today-2/

Main sources: http://www.academia.edu/5943663/A_short_history_of_Swedish_cinema, https://swedishfilmshollywoodremakes.wordpress.com/further-readings-2/sweden/swedish-cinema-the-silent-era/

Stockholm Film Festival 2015.

The 26th Stockholm International Film Festival will take place in just over two weeks time and is a brilliant example of Sweden’s appreciation of international art and culture. The spotlight theme this year is Migration.

Taking place over 12 days between 11th and 22nd November, the event will screen 200 films from more than 60 different countries at 9 venues across Stockholm. The 2015 awards have already gained global media attention after the announcements of a few of ‘The Bronze Horse’ winners and the involvement of a renowned Chinese artist.


The Bronze Horse or Bronshästen, is the heaviest award in film at 7.3kg and designed by the graphic designer Fredrik Swärd. It represents the traditional image of the Swedish Dala horse, often seen in gift shops as children’s toys carved out of wood and painted red.

This year, The Bronze Horse award for Lifetime Achievement has already been awarded to English director Stephen Frears (The Program, Philomena, The Queen). After his recent success in depicting Lance Armstrong’s battle with David Walsh in The Program, Frears now joins the likes of Quentin Tarantino, David Lynch and Mike Leigh who have all received the award previously.

Ai Weiwei is also set to be a part of the 2015 Festival making it the third consecutive year of collaboration. In 2014, Ai Weiwei sculpted two giant lions out of ice to symbol guards of The Forbidden City. This year, he chairs the jury of the new Stockholm Impact Award whilst also designing the anticipated award itself. The Impact Award aims to highlight films that create opportunities for change and debate around contemporary issues.


Other highlights of the festival include: premier of She’s Wild Again Tonight (winner of the Feature Film Award), Ellen Burstyn (The Exorcist, Requiem for a Dream) receiving the Stockholm Achievement Award and Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos (The Lobster) receiving the Stockholm Visionary Award.

Read more at www.stockholmfilmfestival.se

Images: Festival – Stockholm Film Festival/stockholmfilmfestival.se, Bronze Horse – Isa Olsson/stockholmfilmfestival.se, Dala Horse -Amanda Westerbom/imagebank.sweden.se,  Skandia – Emmanuel Castro Skött/stockholmfilmfestival.se, Ai Wei Wei – Gao Yuan/stockholmfilmfestival.se