Sweden’s Eurovision trials cancel live tour amid rising Covid numbers

Swedish television's flagship programme, Melodifestivalen, will not tour the country in 2022.

Sweden's Eurovision trials cancel live tour amid rising Covid numbers
Melodifestivalen in pre-pandemic times. Photo: Jonas Ekströmer/TT

In a statement, Swedish public broadcaster SVT commented that the high spread of infection currently meant it “would not be defensible to travel the country with a large team”.

The TV spectacle was set to fill arenas in Gothenburg, Malmö, Linköping, Lidköping and Örnsköldsvik en route to the final in Friends Arena.

Instead the show will stay in Stockholm for its six-week duration, as 28 artists compete to represent Sweden in the 2022 Eurovision Song Contest. 

The venue in Stockholm is yet to be confirmed, with SVT looking at solutions that may allow a small audience. Under current regulations a maximum capacity of 500 people would apply. 

“The situation is how it is just now and we will do our best with the situation,” said Hanna Stjärne, CEO of SVT. “Melodifestivalen is a party for all of Sweden and we will do all we can to create an exciting TV show that spreads warmth and happiness when it is most needed.”

The first heat of Melodifestivalen’s six weeks of programming will be broadcast on SVT 1 at 8pm on Saturday, February 5th. 

In the weeks after Christmas, Sweden has seen record-high numbers of new Covid infections, with more than 25,000 daily cases confirmed on both Wednesday and Thursday this week. This prompted authorities to roll out a series of new restrictions and recommendations this week, including early closings for bars and restaurants, capping public events to 500 people, and urging adults to limit their close contacts.

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Who is Sweden’s ‘King of Cringe’?

As Swedish director Ruben Östlund picks up his second Palme d'Or, The Local asks who is the man known as Sweden's 'King of Cringe?'

Who is Sweden's 'King of Cringe'?

Swedish filmmaker Ruben Östlund’s Triangle of Sadness was awarded the Palme d’Or in Cannes on Saturday night, marking the second time he has won the award following his 2017 success for The Square.

Triangle of Sadness is a biting social satire that sees a celebrity fashion model couple, played by British actor Harrison Dickinson and South African actress Charlbi Kriek, encounter unexpected events on an exclusive cruise for the super-rich.

Östlund, known by some as Sweden’s “King of Cringe”, explained to the media that he wanted to make a film that got people talking: “We wanted to entertain them, we wanted them to ask themselves questions, we wanted them to after the screening go out and have something to talk about,” he said.

It seems he achieved his ambition and Triangle of Sadness lived up to Östlund’s ‘King of Cringe’ moniker – complete with a vomiting scene that has reportedly been the talk of the town in Cannes this week – and news agency AFP noted that scenes from the film left “viewers either howling with laughter or turning green” during its premiere. King of Cringe he may be, but who is Ruben Östlund?

King of Cringe

Born in Styrsö, Gothenburg, in 1974, Östlund got his start in filmmaking on the Swedish ski slopes while working there after leaving school. Initially filming his friend’s skiing stunts, Östlund’s films won him a place at film school in Gothenburg and after graduating and setting up his own production company, he got to work on more serious filmmaking.

The Guitar Mongoloid (2004) and Involuntary (2008) were his first films, quickly followed by Play (2011), and Force Majeure (2014).

The Guitar Mongoloid won an award at the 27th Moscow International Film Festival, and Östlund’s short film Incident by a Bank won the Golden Bear for Best Short Film at the 60th Berlin International Film Festival.

Force Majeure won the Jury Prize at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival, was shortlisted for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, and is when Östlund really crowned himself as Sweden’s ‘King of Cringe’. A cringe-laden relationship drama set in the French Alps, Force Majeure has been described in reviews as “gleefully uncomfortable”. 

The awards continued in 2017 when Östlund picked his first Palme d’Or for The Square, another satire, this time about an art curator navigating several personal and professional crises.

Triangle of Sadness picked up the top prize last night in Cannes.