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    Alicia Vikander in her Academy Award winning role as Gerda Wegener in The Danish Girl (2015).

    NEW GENRES BRING NEW AUDIENCES The widening of genres has helped cre- ate an increased interest in Swedish film beyond the north European countries. Besides mainland Europe and USA, South Korea has recently grown into the most important export market for Swedish film with 16 films screened at cinemas in the past five years (compared with the Netherlands which screened the most number of Swedish films, 70). The most viewed Swedish films of late cover widespread genres such as comedy (The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared), documentary (Searching for Sugar Man), drama (Force Majeure), thriller (The Hypnotist) and action (Easy Money).


    SWEDISH FILM EXPANDING Swedish film is treading into untried genres and this breadth is perhaps what gives contem- porary Swedish film its sharpest edge. If international audiences used to anticipate healthy portions of nudity, introspection and childhood reflection, today they might just as well come across crime syndicates, zombies and runaway hundred-year-olds.

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    AWARDS AND FESTIVALS Major international film festivals play a big role when it comes to show casing Swedish film. In 2016, Sweden was rep- resented by nine films at Berlin (plus five co-productions). Two of the ten competing short films at the 2016 festi- val in Cannes were Swedish. At the 2015 International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam, a record-breaking ten Swedish films appeared, and the Swedish-Finnish co-production Don Juan by Jerzy Sladkowski won the award for best feature-length documentary. Sweden’s own film awards, the Guldbagge (Golden Beetle) awards, have been around since 1964 and are presented in 19 categories. The big multiple award winners in 2016 were

    Drifters (Tjuvheder, five awards) by Peter Grönlund, closely followed by The Here After (Efterskalv, three awards in- cluding Best Film and Best Directing) by Magnus von Horn and Flocking (Flocken, three awards) by Beata Gårdeler.

    GENDER EQUALITY IN SWEDISH FILM Sweden is sometimes mentioned as a role model when it comes to gender equality in film. Within Sweden, how- ever, the consensus is that much still remains to be done. Since 2013, a re- quirement for Swedish film support through the Film Agreement (see below) has been that funding from film commis- sioners shall be divided equally between women and men in the key positions


    Noomi Rapace’s portrayal of Lisbeth Salander in the Millennium films (2009) launched her to international stardom with major roles in films such as Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (2011), Prometheus (2012) and Child 44 (2015), the latter directed by Daniel Espinosa.

    Millennium co-star Michael Nyqvist has also been cast in a number of in- ternational films, including Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol (2011) and John Wick (2014).

    Joel Kinnaman rose to interna- tional fame through his role in Easy Money (Snabba Cash, 2010). Since completing the crime trilogy, he has appeared in a number of films and shows, including The Killing (2011–2014), RoboCop (2014), House of Cards (2016–) and Suicide Squad (2016).

    Matias Varela, who co-starred along Kinnaman in the Easy Money films, recently appeared in Point Break (2015) and is cast in Assassin’s Creed (2016) along Michael Fassbender.

    Rebecca Ferguson also has a past in Swedish crime, and has been cast in major productions such as Hercules (2014) and Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation (2015).



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    Noomi Rapace as Lisbeth Salander.

    of director, screenwriter and producer. So far, the agreement has been kept; however, looking at all film funded in other ways, the numbers drop. In 2015, there was a noticeable in- crease in gender equality. Of the feature- length fiction films released during the year, a record-breaking 36 per cent were directed by women. The most frequented film of the year, A Holy Mess (En under- bar jävla jul) was furthermore directed by Helena Bergström, proving once more that women directors are every bit as commercially viable as men.

    NEW FUNDING DEALS In 2017, the Swedish Film Agreement will be replaced by a new national film policy still under development. The cur- rent policy is a series of agreements between the state, film industry, cinema owners and television companies that establishes how film support is allocated and administered by the Swedish Film Institute. The goal of the new policy is among other things for support to become more technology-neutral (read less reliant on cinema distribution). Perhaps in the future more Swedes will follow the lead of director David Sandberg and turn to crowd-funding. Sandberg found a way around the Swedish funding system by setting a Kickstarter record with his mar- tial arts comedy spoof Kung Fury (2015). With USD 630,000 pledged by close to

    18,000 backers, Sandberg was able to produce a 30-minute film and release it online for free. What he may not have planned on was being included in the Directors’ Fortnight section at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival. Or that it would reach close to 25 million views on YouTube. Kung Fury won a Guldbagge Award for best short.

    MOVING ONLINE The film industry is moving online, not just when it comes to funding but also distribution and viewing. Of all films watched in Sweden, 49 per cent are ac- cessed online (13 per cent illegally). The breakthrough of new digital media and the ability to crowd-fund have helped create more opportunities for the production and dissemination of films in more genres. David Sandberg is not the only one to turn to an online audience. Felix Kjellberg, YouTube alias PewDiePie with over 44 million subscribers, is a web-based comedian and producer with the most viewed YouTube channel of all time. Since 2014, Sweden has had an awards ceremony for YouTubers, Guldtuben (The Golden Tube) with cash prizes in categories such as Vlogger, Gamer, Action and Comedy. For internet- savvy Sweden, the line between home screens and the silver screen is already becoming blurred. n

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    PewDiePie’s YouTube account was the first to breach 10 billion video views, in 2015.

    • In 2015, Swedish cinemas sold 17 million tickets, grossing around SEK 1.8 billion. Films from the US sold more tickets than films from all other nations combined – 58.5 per cent compared to 19.8 per cent for domestic movies.

    • Of the 270 feature films screened, 46 were Swedish.

    • In 2015, the number of active cinemas in Sweden increased for the first time in years, totalling 800 screens in 415 cinemas.

    • In 2015, 30 Swedish films were sold internationally.


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    AN EYE FOR DIRECTING Spearheaded by the visionary giant Ingmar Bergman and the in- ternationally renowned Lasse Hallström, it is first and foremost the directors who are steering Swedish film into new genres – and in the process leaving their own personal mark. Trends point less towards social conformity and a sense of order, and more towards expressiveness and reduced respect for authority.

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    Swedish actress Tehilla Blad in Beyond.

    After the success of Easy Money (Snab- ba Cash) in 2010, Daniel Espinosa turned to directing international productions such as Safe House (2012) and Child 44 (2015). He is next set to direct a classic Swedish story, The Emigrants (Utvand- rarna), based on a novel by Vilhelm Moberg about a family leaving Sweden for the US in the 19th century. Pernilla August is an actress turned director who had a breakthrough role in Bergman’s Fanny and Alexander (Fanny och Alexander) in 1982 and later starred in two Star Wars films. In 2010, her feature directorial debut Beyond (Svina- längorna, 2010) generated critical acclaim and several awards, including two at the Venice Film Festival and one at Filmfest Hamburg. After directing a 2014 Danish television series, August returned to feature films in 2016 with an adaptation of Hjalmar Söderberg’s classic Swedish love story A Serious Game (Den allvarsamma leken) starring Michael Nyqvist. Ruben Östlund is a writer-director who made his feature debut in 2004 followed

    by two prizewinning fictional shorts and the feature Play (2011) – which won the Nordic Council Film Prize, along with the Best Director Award at the Tokyo Film Festival and Coup de Coeur in Cannes. Force Majeure (Turist, 2014) won the Jury Prize of Un Certain Regard at Cannes 2014. He is currently working on The Square, a feature film with utopian un- dertones about shared responsibilities. As in his previous work, there will be plenty of room for both the serious and the comedic. Hannes Holm has a firm footing in comedies but is not afraid to jump be- tween genres. Before his comedic drama A Man Called Ove (En man som heter Ove, 2015) became a box office as well as critical success, some of his best- selling films included both dramas and family films. Close


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