The first years of cinema was synonymous with the magic of projecting moving images; of rendering life to dead matter. The first Swedish film, Konungens af Siam landstigning vid Logårdstrappan, was shot in 1897 and ran for 20 seconds, depicting the arrival of the King of Siam at the Royal Palace in Stockholm. In the years that followed at the turn of the last century, films available for public viewing were a mixture of short nature films, footage from significant events, and comedies; sometimes together with a somewhat longer fiction film. The actuality films – travelogues from exotic places as well as scenes of local events – continued to be a dominant part of film programmes for years to come. Sport events, royalties, expositions, market scenes and demonstrations were among the most frequent topics. Chronicles of work and leisure throughout Sweden was a very popular subject, and city after city were rendered a cinematic portrait depicting the street life, railway stations, schools, parks and historical monuments.
Around 1911 staged fiction films started to be the main attraction in cinemas, but non-fiction films continued to be screened as accompanying pieces. A new phenomena, the weekly news-reels, started to appear and would continue to have a place in cinemas for more or less half a century without changing much in design or structure.
It is mainly these categories of films that are now made available at filmarkivet.se, along with other theatrically released films such as informational films commissioned by corporations and public institutions, commercials, and films produced as part of election campaigns.
On filmarkivet.se you will also be able to access Swedish amateur films depicting everyday life as well as including footage of historically significant events.
Before the coming of sound around 1930, silent films in cinemas were often screened with musical accompaniment. Many of the silent films made available on filmarkivet.se are presented with piano music improvised and performed by Matti Bye and produced by Mark Standley.
Each film is presented with a short synopsis and production credits. Many of the films are also presented with a longer piece to put the films into context.
The films available on filmarkivet.se come from the Archival Film Collections of the Swedish Film Institute and from the collections of the National Library’s Division of Audiovisual Media. In the presentations of each film it is indicated from which collection the film originates. We would also like to acknowledge the national broadcasting corporation Sveriges Television for having put films from its collection at disposal through its co-operation with the National Library.
The entire site is available in Swedish only, and none of the films have sub-titles.
Filmarkivet.se is a joint project initated by the Swedish Film Institute and the National Library of Sweden.
The Archival Film Collections of the Swedish Film Institute
The Archival Film Collections of the Swedish Film Institute is one of the oldest in the world, dating back to 1933 and the foundation of Svenska Filmsamfundet, and its mission is to collect, catalogue, preserve and give access to Swedish film heritage, defined as all films theatrically released in Sweden: Swedish and foreign, fiction and non-fiction, short and feature-length, animation, news-reels etc.
In order to preseve the Swedish film heritage for future generations, the films in its collections are stored in specially designed, climate-conrolled vaults to ensure maximum longevity. The Archival Film Collections of the Swedish Film Institute preserves films in their original format, and on the carrier on which the final version of the film was released.
Estimations carried out by the Image Permanence Institute in Rochester indicate that films on film stock, stored under optimal conditions, have a life expectancy of more than 500 years, whereas digital files stored on data tapes have a life expectancy of 3-7 years, and magnetic tapes or discs less than 50 years.
The Archival Film Collections duplicates and restores damaged, incomplete or otherwise unpreserved Swedish films so that they can be made available again in best possible condition. Read more about the Archival Film Collections.
The Swedish Film Institute is the major body in the film sector in Sweden. Its mission is to subsidize the production and distribution of new films, to preserve and give access to the Swedish film heritage and to promote Swedish cinema in an international context.
The National Library of Sweden, Division of Audiovisual Media
Arkivet för Ljud och Bild, later re-named Statens ljud- och bildarkiv (The National Archive for Recorded Sound and Moving Images), was set up by the Swedish government in 1979 as the repository for legal deposit of television and radio broadcasts, video- and phonogrammes and theatrically released films in non-original format. In 2009 the National Archive for Recorded Sound and Moving Images merged with the National Library of Sweden, and formed the Library’s Division of Audiovisual Media. The division’s collections now include eight million hours of mainly radio, television, film, video, phonogrammes and multimedia, and is thus one of the largest media collections in the world. Most of what has been released and broadcast over the last three decades, and almost all phonographic recordings since 1899, is available for research at the library’s premises.
The Grängesberg archive collects Swedish films on small gauges that was never theatrically released, such as industrial, commissioned, community, educational and amateur films. The archive was established in 2003 under the auspicies of the Swedish Film Institute, but since January 2011 the archive is part of the Division of Audiovisual Media of the National Library. The Grängesberg archive functions as an archive for films of historical interest, deposited by societies, corporations, city councils, archives, museums and individuals – films that reflect 20th century Sweden and constitute great source material for research in a variety of fields.
The National Library of Sweden has been the repository for legal deposit of all printed material in Sweden since the 17th century, be it high literature or train schedules.The collecting mission also include television, radio, film, music and computer games. Everything is preserved for posterity, and serves as the nation’s collective memory.
The selection of films made available on filmarkivet.se is being done by an editorial board with representatives from the Swedish Film Institute and the National Library of Sweden. Many of the films selected are virtually unknown, but the locations, events and people depicted in them are very familiar. We have opted to present each film in the following categories to facilitate the search on the site: “Geographic locations”, “Industry”, “News-reels”, “Culture and entertainment”, “Commercials”, “Society and politics”, “Sport and leisure” and “Miscellaneous”. Many films fit in a number of categories, but we have restricted the number of potential categories for each film to two, apart from the geographical location. Since news-reels often includes items from each and every available category, we have given these a category of their own, but bear in mind that under this category you can find many geographical locations, sports and cultural events, as well as industrial and corporate footage. The amateur films provided by the Grängesberg archive can be found under the heading “miscellaneous”. The number of fiction films is initially quite limited (more films will be made available during the latter half of 2011), but you will find staged films whose main purpose was to educate also in other categories. Some films are also e highlighted in a topical theme category that is regularly changed and up-dated.
On the digitization
Most of the films are scanned in Standard Definition PAL and converted to MPEG2 files and streamed. The source element for films originating from the Archival Film Collections of the Swedish Film Institute has mainly been restored 35mm prints, which have been scanned in a CTM Debrie Dixie filmscanner by Conny Franzén, Linn Brissman and Tony Ericsson of the Grängesberg archive.
Rights are cleared with all known rights holders, but for some films we have been unable to trace any rights holder. Should anyone have legitimate claims to films available on filmarkivet.se, please contact us at email@example.com This address can also be used if you would like to incorporate any of the material in a new production.
We adhere to the directive 2006/116/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council on the term of protection of copyright and certain related rights, implemented into Swedish legislation in 2007.
The term of protection of cinematographic or audiovisual works shall expire 70 years after the death of the last of the following persons to survive, whether or not these persons are designated as co-authors: the principal director, the author of the screenplay, the author of the dialogue and the composer of music specifically created for use in the cinematographic or audiovisual work.
The rights of producers of the first fixation of a film shall expire 50 years after the fixation is made. However, if the film is lawfully published or lawfully communicated to the public during this period, the right shall expire 50 years from the the date of the first such publication or the first such communication to the public, whichever is earlier. The term “film” shall designate a cinematographic or audiovisual work or moving images, whether or not accompanied by sound.
In the case of anonymous or pseudonymous works, the term of protection shall run for 70 years after the work is lawfully made available to the public. However, when the pseudonym adopted by the author leaves no doubt as to his identity, or if the author discloses his identity during the period referred to in the first sentence, the term of protection applicable shall be that laid down in article 2:2.
Please contact us at:
The Swedish Filminstitute
Box 27 126
S-102 52 Stockholm
Phone: +46 8 665 11 22