Ella Lemhagen is the director of the Crown Jewels, one of the most highly anticipated Swedish movies due out this spring. Photo: Jessica Gow/Scanpix.

"The Bergman burden has loosened"

4:35 min

What kind of movies will Swedish theater-goers see this spring? And why will they have fewer to choose from than usual? 

More than a dozen flicks – from documentaries to kids' movies and fiction – were on the marquee when the Swedish Film Institute recently presented the new line-up of spring releases. Documentaries are quite popular this year, accounting for about half of the films.

South African Marius van Niekerk, who has been living in exile in Sweden for some 20 years, directed and starred in "My Heart of Darkness," which is in English.

"It's a journey on a boat very much like Apocalypse Now," says van Niekerk. "The boat is going past the battlefields where we fought against each other 20 years ago and tried to kill each other."

In the late 70s, van Niekerk was conscripted to defend apartheid. Later, he had a change of heart, and the film traces his journey back to Angola to seek reconciliation with his former enemies.

But at one point, the veterans he was trying to reconcile with decided they didn't believe his story anymore. "They were accusing me of wanting to become a big movie star," he says. "They said I wasn't in the war . . . and they looked at my pictures and said, well, these pictures you could take anywhere, you could make them up . . . I was very disappointed that after so many years of working with vets and trying to reconcile with my own guilt and shame and stuff, these guys didn't believe me."

Other documentaries due out this spring include "Women with Cows" (Kokvinnorna) about both bovine and sisterly devotion; "I Am My Own Dolly Parton" (Jag är min egen Dolly Parton) about the friendship built on the foundation of a tribute concert; and "The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975" (film is in English) about the African American fight for civil rights.

But the most highly anticipated movie seems to be a fiction film directed by Ella Lemhagen. "The Crown Jewels" (kronjuvelerna) is a drama about Fragancia, a young woman who is suspected for murder. When the police take her in for questioning, it sets the movie off on a fantastic tale with dreamy, otherworldly imagery. Some of the filming is done underwater, and some on ice.

Gila Bergqvist Ulfung moderated the event and says, "It seems like the Bergman burden has sort of loosened a bit, and now you see a bigger diversity of films that's been made."

There were only 13 films that premiered this year at the spring presentation, and this is less than normal.

Bergqvist Ulfung says it might be because distribution companies have become afraid of investing in films for theatrical release. She says now that movies are so accessible on the Internet, the audience is less up for actually going to the movies.

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