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The development of film and cinema in Sweden starts almost immediately after the Brothers Lumiere invent their "cinematograph" in 1895. In 1896 the first public movie screening in Sweden takes place in Malmö, and during the Stockholm Fair in 1897 regular showings in "Lumières Kinematograf i Gamla Stockholm" have great success. In the following years a great number of film companies are formed and cinemas are built all over the country.

In 1909 Charles Magnusson becomes the director of Svenska Biografteatern AB, the to-be most important film production company, and subsequently moves it from Kristianstad to Stockholm. Three movie directors are hired: Georg af Klercker, Mauritz Stiller and Victor Sjöström - these three would largely be responsible for the first flowering of Swedish film between around 1917 and 1924. Domestic film production gets into gears. In 1911, Sweden is the first country to introduce film censorship.

Swedens first classic, Ingeborg Holm by Victor Sjöström, is produced in 1913 - the best of Sweden's silent movies is said to be his Phantom Chariot from 1920. In 1915 the movie department of Hasselblads Fotografiska AB in Gothenburg starts moviemaking as well. Georg af Klercker joins the efforts after he leaves Svenska Bio.

During wartime filmmaking in Europe is difficult and the importance of American productions increases. American companies like Paramount try to make first inroads into the Swedish market, but for the time being without success. In 1918 Hasselbladfilm and several other companies merge into Filmindustri AB Skandia and move the operations to Stockholm. The mergers continue in 1919 when the new company joins with Svenska Biografteatern AB to form Svensk Filmindustri AB. In the same year attendances break all records with 8 million tickets sold, but in the aftermath the industry faces mounting difficulties.

In 1923 the first Swedish directors and actors travel to Hollywood, the nascent center of the worlds movie industry, for example Victor Sjöström, Mauritz Stiller, Greta Garbo and Hjalmar Bergman. Much qualified personal is poached by American and German studios, which hurts domestic productions.

At the end of the 1920's the first sound films are produced. The investments necessary to outfit the cinemas with the new technology lead to a consolidation in the market. Silent movies are quickly ousted and Swedish produced Swedish language movies experience a major upturn.

But at the beginning of the 1930's the general economic depression favors the production of cheap "beer films". In the changing political climate the use of films as a means of propaganda increases. During wartime conditions are once again difficult. Filmmakers have to be very conscious politically - mostly they avoid anything resembling a political statement and turn to shallow entertainment films.

After the war, Frenzy by Alf Sjöberg (actually from 1944) gets much recognition, for example winning the international prize at the first Cannes Film Festival in 1946. Foreign Port (1948) by Hampe Faustman is very influential, and Hasse Ekman is a very busy director.

In 1951 state support for film production is introduced - after the producers had gone "on strike", not doing any more movies, because the entertainment tax on cinemas had been doubled in 1948 to be as high as 40 percent. However, as TV conquers the homes during the 1950's, the number of cinemagoers per year drops from an all time high of 8 million in 1956 to just 4 million in 1963 (today it's not even 2 million). The film industry falls into a crisis.

Although the first color film had been shown as early as 1935 (Becky Sharp), it is not until the 1950's that the new technology makes its breakthrough.

Ingmar Bergman wins many international awards with works like The Seventh Seal (1957), So close to Life (1958), The Virgin Spring (1960), Through a Glass Darkly (1961) and many more. He subsequently becomes the most well known and respected Swedish director.

In 1963 the Swedish Film Institute under the direction of Harry Schein is founded to support the production of valuable Swedish movies. In the following years a new generation of Swedish filmmakers made themselves a name, including Bo Widerberg, Jan Troell, Lasse Hallström and Bille August.

In 1979 the Gothenburg Film Festival is instituted and in 1990 the Stockholm Film Festival takes place for the first time. Swedish movies (and Hollywood movies by Swedish directors) continue to reap success all over the world. A recent Swedish film to win international recognition was Lucas Moodysson's Fucking Åmål (that's a city, not what you think!). Others are for example Jalla Jalla, Kopps, Spun or Småla Sussie.


Source:
Kortfattad svensk filmhistoria - http://www.fsfl.home.se/backspegel/kronologi.html

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