Sven Elfström. 58 kilometres south of Stockholm.
Curator: John Sundholm, Stockholm
The films by Sven Elfström (1929-2017) constitute a unique body of work in the history of Swedish experimental film culture. Firstly, because he was an amateur in the real sense of the word, a full-time welder who had no formal education in neither filmmaking nor fine arts. Secondly, because the films constitute the only consistently political body of work in Swedish experimental film. Thirdly, because the films on 16 mm were shot and completed beside his day-job during the years 1965-1971 in a frantic tempo, resulting in 11 films shot in the industrial port city of Nynäshamn south of Stockholm, with his family and friends as actors.
Only 58 kilometres south of the Swedish hegemonic center of cultural production films of a very different kind were produced almost twice a year, in evenings, on weekends and during holidays. The limited and harsh conditions of production have left a distinctive imprint on every film and constitute an essential part of Sven Elfström’s aesthetics.
The films range from documentaries and political activism to allegorical narratives which deal with human liberation, western capitalist exploitation of nature and people, and how to free oneself without exploiting neither environment nor human relations. What is most remarkable though is that this is articulated through the use of an original style of filmmaking, characterized by a unique sense of rhythm, an audiovisual sensitivity and sometimes rage, which originates in Elfström’s need to express himself.
Thanks to funding from the Lauritzen foundation for research in film history the films on 16 mm have finally been digitally restored. A necessity because the films were shot on reversal film, there are no negatives, and there is only one film that exists in two copies. It has been thus nearly impossible to show the work publicly. The event at CZKD is the grand premiere of the restored films.
The program is divided into two parts. The first two films, Ett försök (An Attempt) and Grävskopan (The Excavator), represent his early allegorical work, whereas Den förtvivlade intellektuelle revolutionären med sina borgerliga komplex (The Desperate Intellectual Revolutionary with his Bourgeois Complexes) is a mix of both allegory and political statement, showing Elfström’s disillusion with leftist strategies at the time. The following three films start with yet another satirical allegory, Skyddet (The Refuge), which is taking place in a typical standardized Swedish flat of the 1960s that was part of the social democratic government’s vision to create one million new homes. The last two films in the program Vem äger staden (Who Owns The City?) and Utveckling? (Progress?) represents Elfström’s activist filmmaking, addressing the financial exploitation of man and her environment.
Sven Elfström Program
Ett försök (An Attempt), 1966, 14’30’’
Grävskopan (The Excavator), 1967, 7’30’’
Den förtvivlade intellektuelle revolutionären med sina borgerliga komplex (The Desperate Intellectual Revolutionary with his Bourgeois Complexes), 1970, 16’30’’
Skyddet (The Refuge), 1968, 13’
Vem äger staden (Who Owns The City?), 1969, 18’30’’
Utveckling? (Progress?), 1971, 5’
John Sundholm is Professor of Cinema Studies at Stockholm University and the director of AVANT (www.avantfilm.se) since 2002. He has researched and programmed minor and experimental cinemas, and organized the first and only retrospective on Sven Elfström in 2009.
The CZKD Cinema program is being realized since 2011. The CZKD Cinema aims to open the space of the film without subduing it to the imperative of sustainability of cultural industries. We evoke a specific tradition of film experience, film production and education which was cherished in cinema clubs, a practice which has affected the entire film culture: There must be an attitude of respect for all participants and elements of film process.
Numerous directors, writers, artists, film historians and theorists took part in various programs of CZKD Cinema, screenings, discussions, performances, festivals, and among them are: Slobodan Šijan, Lordan Zafranović, Branko Vučićević, Želimir Žilnik, Lars Henrik Gass, Puriša Đorđević, Ognjen Glavonić, Srđan Vučinić, Jovan Bačkulja, Marko Milićević, Adam Ranđelović, Ivica Đorđević, Petar Mitrić, Sabloč Tolnai, Mladen Đorđević, Stefan Ivančić, Marko Grba Singh, Nebojša Jovanović, Greg De Kjur, Branka Benčić, Igor Grubić, Sava Trifković, Bojan Jovanović, Ivan Obrenov, Miroslav Bata Petrović, Dejan Vlaisavljević Nikt, Petra Belc, Sunčica Fradelić, Dragomir Zupanc, Dragan Ambrozić, Srđan Đile Marković, Filip David, Dragan Velikić, Sebstyen Kodolanyi, Zoran Naskovski, Ines Pletikos, Aleksandar Muharemović, Zoran Krema, Igor Bezinović, Dušan Kojić Koja, Dalibor Martinis, Ivan Velisavljević, John Sundholm, Fransisco Tomshic and many others.
Photos ofthe event: Dragan Dimčić