The Swedish Film Institute Archive Celebrates Its 75th Anniversary

By Wengström, Jon | Journal of Film Preservation, October 2008 | Go to article overview

The Swedish Film Institute Archive Celebrates Its 75th Anniversary


Wengström, Jon, Journal of Film Preservation


News from the Archives

Nouvelles des archives

Noticias de los archivos

The Archival Film Collections and the Library and Documentation section of the Swedish Film Institute (formerly known as the Cinemateket) celebrate their 75th anniversary in 2008. The origins of the collections stem from the foundation of the Swedish Film Society in October 1993.

Origins*

As in many other countries around Europe at the time, there was an evolving cine-club movement in Sweden in the late 1920s, mainly located in the major university cities. In the spring of 1933 the members of the Stockholm cine-club decided to initiate a more formal grouping, which would maintain the legacy of Swedish silent cinema and function as a forum debating the (in their opinion) recent decline in Swedish film production and distribution. The new association was to be called the Svenska Filmsamfundet (The Swedish Film Society). It was made up of scholars, critics, filmmakers, and writers, and their first constituent meeting took place on 31 October 1933. The driving force behind the founding of the Swedish Film Society was Robin Hood (a pseudonym for Bengt Idestam-Almquist), a writer, art historian, and legendary critic on the daily StockholmsTidningen. Among the first members of the society were film director Gustaf Molander, set designer Vilhelm Bryde, cinematographer Julius Jaenzon, journalist Arne Bornesbusch (later a film director), and writer Eyvind Johnson (Nobel Prize laureate in 1974). According to the statutes adopted at the first meeting, the Swedish Film Society aims would be (a) to promote film, artistically, culturally, and technologically; (b) to release publications and arrange seminars on film; and (c) to establish grants and reward prominent work within the film industry.

But one of the very first initiatives of the Swedish Film Society was the creation of a library and an archive for manuscripts, stills, clippings, and other film-related materials. The archive was first housed in a space at Vasagatan, in central Stockholm, and eventually films were also included in the collections. Afewyears later, in 1938, the Tekniska museet (National Museum of Science and Technology) offered the Society new, bigger, and more appropriate facilities for the collections. By 1940 the Society already enjoyed a more independent status, and it was re-named the Filmhistoriska samlingarna (Filmhistoric Collections). The commercial industry soon appreciated its commendable work, and started to give financial backing to the managing of the collections some years later on the initiative of Carl-Anders Dymling, head of the major production company Svensk Filmindustri.

When the Collections were still housed at Vasagatan, a young student by the name of Einar Lauritzen was one of the most frequent visitors. He started to get involved in the organizing of the collections, and in 1940 he was formally appointed as the curator. In 1946, during Lauritzen's reign, the Filmhistoric Collections became a member of FIAF. Lauritzen was a member of the Federation's Executive Committee for many years, serving as its Treasurer for three separate spells in the 1950s and 60s. Thanks to Lauritzen, Stockholm hosted its first FIAF Congress in 1959 (subsequent Congresses were held in Stockholm in 1983 and 2003)..

The Swedish Film Institute

As a result of many years' debate on thetaxation of cinemas and studios, and how to curb declining cinema attendance figures in the wake of television's breakthrough, the Swedish Film Institute was founded in 1963. The creation was almost exclusively the result of one man's vision, that of Harry Schein -an Austrian-born critic, author, and prominent figure in Swedish public life. He came up with the ingenious idea that theatre owners were to be exempted from the taxation imposed on all other fields of the entertainment industry; instead they would pay 10% of their ticket revenues (also for foreign films) to the Swedish Film Institute, which could then subsidize the production of new films. …

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