The Angled Mirror.

Klara Björk

The filmmaker Kieslowski put it like this: It's hard to live in an undepicted world". I remember when my mother at the age of 60 was smitten by a film that she described as the most fantastic film she'd seen. She felt as if someone had understood and shown experiences she herself had experienced in life. Easier put: she could recognize herself. The film was Jane Campions The Piano. With enthusiasm she lent a VHS-tape of the film to friends and family and encouraged us to see the film men as well as women. So what in The Piano is it that my mother recognized?

My mother started working at the age of 14 to support her parents. At the age of twenty five she alone supports her two children. At one occasion she answers an ad about housework at a farm. When she speaks with the farmer on the phone it turns out that she can bring the children with her and live there while she is working so she decides to visit the farm. The farmer shows her around. He shows her a children's room where her two daughters can stay. "That's where the girls sleep" he says and when my mother asks "And where do I sleep" the farmer gives the resolute answer "you sleep with me of course". My mother didn't take the job.

I think my mother several times in life felt powerless despite always keeping her dignity.

When Bo Widerberg wrote about "the muddled mirror" in the sixties he sought for a Swedish film which would hold up a mirror reflecting our lives. He saw that the prevailing films produced at the time where filled with characters rather than real people. Bo Widerberg likened the Swedish film with "a muddled mirror" non-reflective and twisted.

When I fifty years later look at Swedish films being made today I see similar patterns repeating themselves. The characters of those times are the brands today. Yet another Åsa-Nisse film but also a number of films being made based on bestseller or films based upon already established characters know from television. Uneasy copies not originals. Surely there are interesting filmmakers of today. Filmmakers who hold up a mirror where they see a reality they wish to clarify but I am certain that the one holding the mirror effects what we se in it. It's a fact that many of these interesting portrayers are men from the middle class. Nothing against them - I gladly take part in their depictions - but I also want to see more films that tell me something about my own life. It's a question of democracy as much as equality. We as people have a need see ourselves and our humanity reflected through the destiny of others, in the condensed art form that film is. Films and pictures make an indelible impression on our consciousness and reach people in all ages and from all walks of life.

I read a newly written article where a male film director complains about the imposed demands for equality that have hit the film industry. He says that it's impossible for him as male director to apply for money from the Swedish Film Institute. (73% of the feature length film made in 2010 where made by men, authors note). He furthermore says; that it's a question of quality and not equality which films should be made. I would like to answer him that it's foremost a question of democracy and that judging a films quality is arbitrary. There is a consensus for what is considered quality both when it comes to mainstream and art house films. This creates an inability to make use of certain kinds of artistry, different voices, among them women. The criteria that decision-makers put forward is more based upon WHO'S behind the project rather than WHAT the project is about. This creates a standard that reproduces itself. Quality projects do get out there but I'm also certain that interesting projects are passed up on.

I think it's worth noting that the Swedish film that has reached the highest average rating since SFI (The Swedish Film Institute) started with their rating index in 2007 is the film She Monkeys, which had an average of 4,21. Lisa Ashcan's debut feature was the last film in the rookie project and it was chosen based upon a wish for specifically female directors. There where also specific conditions; one film consultant, a budget level and there was no cinematic distribution guaranteed beforehand.

We need to make more films in this country so that we can give room for that which has not yet been depicted.
Films that take artistic risks and renew the expression and form of film itself.
It's important that there exists an artistic width and a diversity among the films that are developed and that everything isn't made to fit in to a conventional form already from start. It's unfortunate that the advance support given today is in relation to if the film has distribution.

A society has the responsibility for the films being made with the support of that society, but there is also a responsibility to discuss the films being made. To put them into context and make them available to the citizens. Today we create the cultural heritage of tomorrow - what stories shall depict our contemporary society? It's a responsibility that comes with certain obligations. Imagine all the stories out there not yet told, undepicted.