Swedish film: quantity or quality?

Almost everyone is on vacation, and it's been a slow week in the culture pages. One paper's entire staff decided to take a week off, and it seems only the book reviewers managed to get their articles in on time. It seems that only rock never sleeps.

Reports from Ystad assure us that things are going well with the slapdash creation of thirteen films based on the ‘Kurt Wallander’ crime novel series slated to be completed within two years. ‘Before the Frost’, the first of the films, will be made in seven weeks. It’s hard to imagine how a decent film could possibly be made so quickly, but DN dug up the producers’ secret: buddying up with the local police force.

Ewa Gun Westford, speaking for the Ystad police, explained: “We’ve shown all of the actors the police station, and we give advice so that the police and their work look right in the movie. It’s fun to be able to give society something more than just crime prevention.”

Articles on the Wallander filming also brought us this week’s best new place-name. Trollywood is no longer the only moviemaking reference point in Sweden – now you can dazzle your friends by casually allowing ‘HollYstad’ to roll off your tongue.

Discussion continues on ‘Cecilia and the Monkey King’, the opera now showing at Drottningholmteatern. For those who haven’t been following, the age-old debate as to the relative importance of words versus music is being played out in ‘Cecilia’, in which the players sing in, well, gibberish.

Aftonbladet’s review this week asked, is this worth the bother? The conclusion was mixed. “The scenic variety is huge and the musical fantasy flows, but you don’t understand what’s happening.” The reviewer had nothing but nice things to say about the actors’ voices, so one hopes they’ll have no trouble finding work where they’ll be able to sing using a real language.

The Swedish festival season continued – with a few hitches. The Kalas tour, currently in its eighteenth year, had a rough start. Kalas brings Swedish Music Now to the hinterlands each year; this year’s tour includes Marit Bergman, Thomas Di Leva, Backyard Babies, Infinite Mass, and Melody Club. The tour was to kick off in Kalmar, but wind and rain led to a cancellation. Örebro’s concert was delayed by rain. Reviews (for the most part thus far theoretical) argue that though each piece of this tour is greater than the whole, overall it’s probably worth the money – for 350 crowns you’re likely to find something you like. Check the weather before you buy your ticket.

Reviews of the Peace & Love festival in Borlänge were mixed. Motörhead headlined; in an interview with singer Lemmy Kilmister, we found the secret to the 29-year-old band’s success: “Young people look for things that sound young, and they have found us.”

Not everyone rocked so hard- the reviewer from Dagens Nyheter was not impressed with José Gonzáles’s live set (presumably as nothing caught fire), but in the end we found that “the spirit of rock lives, and not just in Lemmy’s unnatural figure”.

Cecilia och apkungen

To July 24


Kalas tour

July 16, Helsingborg; July 17, Göteborg; July 23, Lysekil; July 24, Malmö; July 25, Karlskrona; July 30, Varberg; July 31, Norrköping; August 6, Karlstad; August 7, Stockholm

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How a Swedish film festival is offering a nurse downtime during pandemic

A front-line Swedish nurse is getting some Covid downtime with a week of private screenings of the Gothenburg film festival, in a former lighthouse off the country's west coast.

How a Swedish film festival is offering a nurse downtime during pandemic
Competition winner Lisa Enroth.

More than 12,000 candidates from 45 countries applied to watch the festival's films in almost near isolation on an island 400 kilometres (250 miles) from Stockholm.

The prize is a week viewing as many of the festival's 70 premieres as they like in a hotel in the former Pater Noster Lighthouse. But they will be in isolation and will have no access to their own computer or laptop.

READ ALSO: Decision on stricter restrictions for foreign travellers to be made quickly

The bright-red lighthouse, built on a tiny island off Sweden's west coast in 1868, is surrounded by a scattering of squat, red buildings originally built to house the lighthouse keeper's family. It can only be reached by boat or helicopter, depending on the weather.

After a series of interviews and tests, festival organisers chose emergency nurse and film buff Lisa Enroth for the prize, in keeping with the 2021 festival's theme, Social Distances.

Before boarding a small speedboat out to the island on the clear, chill winter's morning, Enroth said she had applied not only out of her love for the cinema, but also to seek respite from her hectic work as an emergency nurse during the pandemic.

“It has been hectic, so it's a nice opportunity just to be able to land and to reflect over the year,” she said.

Months working amid Covid crisis

Sweden, which has taken a light-touch approach to the pandemic compared to its neighbours, has been facing a stronger than expected second wave of the virus. So far, more than 11,500 people have died from Covid-19 across the country.

Enroth works in the emergency ward of a hospital in Skovde in central Sweden. Since the start of the pandemic, her hospital's work caring for virus patients on top of their regular workload has been intense.

Lisa Enroth on her way to the remote festival location. Photo: AFP

“We had a lot of Covid cases during this year and every patient that has been admitted to the hospital has been passing through the emergency ward,” she told journalists.

The organisers said they were surprised by the numbers of applicants for the prize but were confident they had chosen the right candidate — not only for her love of cinema.

“She has also dedicated this past year in the frontline against the Covid-19 pandemic,” the festival's creative director Jonas Holmberg said to AFP.

“That's also one of the reasons we chose her”. 

Isolated screenings

Boarding the boat dressed in a thick survival suit, Enroth sped over the calm, icy waters, jumping off in the island's tiny harbour and disappearing into her lodgings.

A screen has been set up in the lantern room at the top of the windswept island's lighthouse, offering a 360-degree view of the sea and coastline around.

Another wide screen has been set up in one of the island's buildings.

Enroth will also have a tablet and headphones if she wants to watch films elsewhere on the island, which measures just 250 metres by 150 metres.

With only one other person staying permanently on the island — a safety precaution — Enroth's only contact with the outside world will be through her video diary about the films she has viewed.

The festival's films will be shown online and two venues in Gothenburg itself will allow screenings for just one person at a time.

Holmberg, the festival's creative director, said he hoped events like these would maintain interest in the industry at a time when many screens are closed because of pandemic restrictions.

“We are longing so much to come back to the cinemas and in the meantime we have to be creative and do the things that we can to create discussion,” he told journalists.