Luvvies’ tiff

This week's biggest culture news by far has been the spat between screenwriter Peter Birro, director Richard Hobert, and Swedish Television. Pride has been wounded, feelings hurt, and everyone's still in a huff.

Last week Birro wrote an open letter to the Swedish media. Birro has worked with SVT before on a number of award-winning mini-series and had been involved in the production of his newest work, a biography of August Strindberg, which was to come out for Christmas 2005.

In his letter Birro stated that he and SVT’s producers had been involved in choosing a director for the show when drama chief Magdalena Jangard and producer An-Ci Lifmark went “behind his back” and engaged Hobert to direct the show.

Birro apparently didn’t think much of the choice, and he rang Hobert directly to let him know he wasn’t wanted on the project. To be sure that the newspaper-reading public knew exactly how he felt, he wrote: “I cannot imagine that Hobert would be able to look himself in the mirror and make the film on August when he knows what I think. As it turns out, I’ve overrated Richard Hobert’s sense of fair play. He’s going to make the film anyway. In my entire working life as a writer I have never been so dishonestly and unprofessionally treated.”

But it doesn’t end there. Within a few days Dagens Nyheter already had an interview with another writer condemning SVT’s treatment – “Writers have zero status” – and SVT and Hobert had both replied to Birro’s letter.

In an interview with Aftonbladet Hobert complained that actually it was Birro who wasn’t “playing fair” and that he “blackens my name as a professional, putting himself forth as an innocent lamb to the slaughter.”

Hobert argued that SVT had acted without Birro’s consent because after several months of work with him there had been no progress, and said that he had already backed out of the project but didn’t know if SVT would release him from his contract.

Meanwhile, open letter number two was out: 31 directors, writers, actors, and producers signed a letter condemning SVT and explaining that far from being a one-off personality clash, the incident “is also about an important question of principle: artists’ obvious right to have influence over their own work.”

The Local only hopes that the show will be as engaging as the production bickering.

The European music festival season is in full swing. This week brought glowing reviews from the Rydal festival and Denmark’s Roskilde saga continued.

Visitors to the Rydal Festival of Chamber and Electronic Music were giddied by the combination. The hunch-dancing boys with their computers were pleased to educate the older ladies, and the viola players were happy to see anyone under sixty (the kids even drank beer during their sets!). Dagens Nyheter reported that beyond the confirmed stereotype of “men with machines and women with bows,” everything was pretty much great.

Denmark’s enormous Roskilde festival inspired more creative crime than the standard drug offences.

Sydsvenskan reported that this year a number of youngsters missed out on the festival because a 23-year-old man from Lund, after gaining access to the kids through a 19-year-old girl on a chat site, managed to sell most of her friends nonexistent discounted tickets. The young man used up the money on hotel rooms (while managing a mobile telephone scam in concert with the aforementioned 19-year-old) and is now being tried in Lund’s court. So you’ve been warned: don’t buy concert tickets from shady guys in chatrooms with cool record company connections.

You can find information on festivals at Some Swedish festivals worth visiting include:

Falun Folk Music Festival (the biggest folk- and world music festival in the Nordics), Falun. 9-12 July.

Arvika Festival (Björk, Ministry, etc), Arvika. 10-12 July.

Stockholm Jazz Festival, Stockholm (20th anniversary season). 25 July- 2 August.

Gates of Metal (only for those with ears of metal too), Hultsfred. 2 August.