Animator Jonas Odell winning best short film Guldbagge for "Never Like the First Time." Photo: Claudio Bresciani/TT.
Animator Jonas Odell winning best short film Guldbagge for "Never Like the First Time." Photo: Claudio Bresciani/TT.

Swedish film animators lack support

"Sweden produces some of the most interesting animated documentaries"
3:24 min

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the first Swedish animated film, but there is no national film policy to help Swedish animators succeed internationally.

Short films, documentaries and feature films all have their own advisors, who allocates money through the Swedish Film Institute. But animated films do not have a specific advisor. If a Swedish film animator wants to apply for money they must apply in one of the other categories.

Midhat Ajanovic, a filmmaker who teaches film animation in western Sweden, thinks the lack of a special category for animated film within the Swedish Film Institute hinders the further development of the genre.

"There is, in fact, no specialized advisor for animation and no film funding set aside for animation productions, and that is something that inhibits production in the country," Ajanovic told Swedish Radio Culture News.

This week was the 50th Guldbagge awards, the Swedish equivalent of the Oscars and there is no award category for animated film. However, all three films nominated to the Best Short Film category were animated films.

At this year's Gothenburg Film Festival, Ajanovic assembled the program honoring 100 years of Swedish animated film. He chose the films from what he sees as the four chapters of Swedish animation history: from silent film animation; to Disney-inspired children's films from the 1930s and beyond; to the more modernist style that can be seen in, for example, the magazine Galago; and finally now to animated documentary films. And that's where Ajanavic feels Sweden is forging ahead.

"Sweden is one of the countries that produces the most interesting animated documentaries recently. And," Ajanovic says, his "personal favorite is Jonas Odell."

Odell's film "Never Like the First Time!" won the Guldbagge and the Berlin Film Festival prizes for best short film in 2006. The film is a melding of live and animated film and uses interviews with various people telling about the time they lost their virginity.

At the Gothenburg Film Festival, one of the films Ajanovic has chosen to screen is the first Swedish animated film, "The potion," created by the film pioneer Victor Bergdahl in 1915. And like all pioneers, Bergdahl was forced to experiment and find his own technique. But the story about a man drinking and suddenly is devoured by a creature emerging from his own head was very personal, Ajanovic believes.

"My theory is that it is about alcohol. Bergdahl had problems with it in his personal life and this was maybe one way of dealing with it," Ajanovic said.

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