Swedish Film Institute

History of the Film Institute

The Swedish Film Institute Foundation was founded in 1963, a brainchild of the film critic and businessman Harry Schein (1924-2006), who also became its first CEO.

The Film Reform

Together with the Social Democrat Minister of Finance, Gunnar Sträng, Harry Schein was the author of the Film Reform, by which the Swedish state and the film industry signed an agreement exempting cinemas from the entertainment tax that existed at the time in return for a ten percent levy on cinema admission tickets. This was to be paid to the Film Institute, which in turn would plough back that money in the form of funding. Part of the Institute's resources would also be used for archive purposes, documentation, and film restoration.

Both the government and parliament recognised the importance of domestic film production, and that the decline in cinema admissions in Sweden made state funding a necessity. They also recognised the need for one collective body to preserve Sweden's national film heritage.

The Film Agreement

Today, virtually all European countries have some form of film institute to administer national film policy. The Film Agreement as such is unique to Sweden, yet other countries also have specific taxes or state levies on film consumption which are ploughed back into the fund-providing organisations.

Since 1963 Swedish film policy has been regulated and financed through the Film Agreement, irrespective of the political party in government. The agreement has been renegotiated at roughly five year intervals. Since 1963, the financial arrangements of the agreement have frequently been expanded and changed.
In 1973 the state began providing direct grants to fulfil the remit of the agreement. 1982 saw the video industry enter as one of the parties to the agreement, joined in 1992 by Sveriges Television and Nordisk Television (now TV 4). In 2006 the other remaining Swedish television companies joined. However, in 1998, the video industry left the agreement.

The film culture-related elements of the Film Institute's activities, such as the archive and the Cinematek film club, have been financed alternately through the years by the Film Agreement and full state financing. The cinema ticket levy, which from the outset was the Film Institute's only source of revenue, accounts for only 25% of its revenue today.

Division of funding

In the early years support funding was distributed retroactively to producers, based either on box office success or jury-defined qualities. From the 1970s onwards, production funding was awarded at the discretion of various committees. Since 1993 the film commissioners have allotted funding for the production of new films, with allocation of retroactive funding based on box office figures.

The remit for film policy has also shifted continually over the years. The Film Institute has taken on new responsibilities, including the school cinema programme, distribution and screening funding and regional support. From the end of the 1960s until 1993, the Film Institute also acted as the producer of films. In 1970, the Film School which was originally part of the Film Institute, became part of an independent body named the University College of Film, Radio, Television and Theatre (Dramatiska institutet).

Key dates

2012 A new Film Agreement is signed for the years 2013-2015
2008 The government commissions a film inquiry
2006 Current Film Agreement ratified
2002 The film archive in Grängesberg is established
1998 The video industry leaves the Film Agreement
1993 Film commissioner system introduced, The Film Institute stops producing films
1975 The Film Institute acquires AB Hollywood Filmlaboratorium (currently Rotebro Filmservice)
1971 Filmhuset opens
1970 The Film School becomes Dramatiska institutet
1967 Work begins on Filmhuset
1964 First Guldbagge awards presented, National film history collections become the Film Archive of the Swedish Film Institute, The Film School (Filmskolan) opens
1963 The Swedish Film Institute Foundation is formed and the first Film Agreement is ratified

CEOs past and present

2011 Anna Serner 
2011 Bengt Toll
2006 Cissi Elwin Frenkel
2000 Åse Kleveland
1998 Hans Ottosson
1994 Lars Engqvist
1989 Ingrid Edström
1982 Klas Olofsson
1978 Jörn Donner
1972 Harry Schein
1970 Bo Jonsson
1963 Harry Schein

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