Swedish film directors vent fury over ad breaks

Do you wander off for more popcorn or make a quick trip to the toilet at every commercial break? Or do you use the opportunity to teach your children about the evils of advertising? Whatever side you’re on, the Swedish courts are making decisions that could change your viewing experience forever.

This week directors Vilgot Sjöman and Claes Eriksson took TV4 to court – because the commercial television station had the gall to insert advertisements into their films. Both directors say that they didn’t agree to commercial breaks in their films, and that the breaks were placed badly.

The directors’ hopes might be buoyed by a decision that came down early this week: TV4 was judged to be in the wrong by the Swedish board of inspections for placing a commercial break in the midst of a particularly dramatic scene in Luc Besson’s film Leon (released as The Professional in the USA) last December.

Claes Eriksson is taking TV4 to court over the two commercial breaks in his film Hajen som visste för mycket (The Shark Who Knew Too Much) – a film that’s been seen by many as a direct criticism against venture capital economics. Irony.

Vilgot Sjöman is in court over the three breaks in his film Alfred. In Svenska Dagbladet he described his excitement on finding that the film would be shown on TV4 and settling down in his summer house to watch it.

“It was a catastrophe. It’s like I have a little kid inside me, and I was sad when I saw how they handled my film,” said the 79-year-old filmmaker.

This won’t be the first time Sjöman stands up before a court for his art. Sjöman is the director of the controversial Jag är nyfiken – gul (I Am Curious – Yellow) seized by American customs officials as obscene materials. Sjöman flew to the States to defend his film, and while his work was trashed in the first court, a higher court saw the artistic value of the film and let Sjöman and his tapes free.

A number of members of the board of inspections are looking to charge TV4 with even more wrongdoing concerning Alfred, and freedom of speech and copyright issues are at stake. Among other things the film (which is in four languages) was at times simply not subtitled due to some type of machine failure.

The courts have been watching the films in their entirety as they were shown on TV4. Dagens Nyheter reported that in the sober environs of the courtroom, the commercial breaks seemed even more intrusive than they would have been at home. It seems that commercial channels may have to come up with a new strategy if they hope to break even.

Sources: Dagens Nyheter, Svenska Dagbladet, Expressen, Aftonbladet, Göteborgs Posten


The Bridge season four: What the first reviews say about the Nordic Noir finale

The final series of Scandinavian crime drama The Bridge (Bron) is set to premiere on New Year's Day in Sweden - and the first reviews give a clue what's in store.

The Bridge season four: What the first reviews say about the Nordic Noir finale
Cast and crew at the premiere of the final season. Photo: Björn Lindgren / TT

Almost a year after filming first began on the fourth and final series, there's less than a month to go until viewers can catch up with Saga Norén (played by Sofia Helin), and the first reviews appeared in Swedish media this week.

Warning: The reviews may contain spoilers for anyone still catching up on season three. Diehard fans, read on.

To refresh your memories, we left the third season with Norén forced out of her Malmö police job and agreeing to help her Danish counterpart Henrik Sabroe (played by Thure Lindhardt) find his missing children.

The fourth season picks up two years later. Norén is now in prison, convicted of her mother’s murder and waiting for her case to be reviewed.

Meanwhile, her Danish counterpart Henrik is working on a grisly case after the head of Copenhagen’s immigration office was stoned to death.

So far, it sounds like it has all the components fans of the series have come to expect, with a few twists and turns surely in store. But what did Swedish reviewers think of the series?

The Expressen tabloid gave the first two episodes a three out of five rating, saying that it was a “very promising” start and “exciting from the first second”.

Its reviewers praised Helin for “finding new ways to portray Saga” and for her “impressive interaction” with Lindhardt. However, a subplot, mysteriously described as “involving twins” was less impressive and described as failing to lift the show, though Expressen noted that it might develop more as the series progresses.

In the Aftonbladet daily, reviewers rated the show four out of five, saying that the team behind The Bridge have put together the final season with “the kind of casual and clear confidence that only those who know they have always been the best in class can afford”.

“The feeling is one of total control, and it convinces us that we won't be disappointed, whichever way The Bridge chooses to take for its final exit,” its reviewers said. 

The Aftonbladet review also gave a bit more detail about the new setting of the show. Unlike previous series, creators have already revealed that the final season will be set more in Denmark than in Sweden, and will no longer be city-based.

Show writer Hans Rosenfeldt has revealed that the setting would be more rural than in previous series, saying: “A small village outside of Malmö will be a major location.”

And according to Aftonbladet, the fourth series will feature “a very strange, cult-like village” run by an older woman.

Rosenfeldt has also previously said the upcoming season will reveal more about the characters' personal lives — and that it will be the goriest yet.

Viewers can catch the fourth and final episode on SVT on January 1st, 2018 and the remaining seven episodes of the series will be broadcast on Sundays.

READ ALSO: What we'll learn about Saga in The Bridge's final season