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Preserving flammable nitrate films is one of the film heritage missions of the Swedish Film Institute. Photo: Gert Moberg

Photochemical duplication and restoration

The Swedish Film Institute continues to have photochemical duplications and restorations be carried out, mainly of films still only existing on nitrate.

Until 1953, almost all professional 35mm films in Sweden were produced on cellulose nitrate stock, which is self-destructible if stored in bad conditions, and it is also highly flammable; it self-ignites at +38ºC. To make films existing only on nitrate stock available again, they must be duplicated or digitized.

Large-scale analogue preservation started in the 1960's, when fiction films from the silent era began to be duplicated onto safety stock. During the 1970’s, all existing feature-length sound films from the nitrate era were duplicated. In 1980 the Swedish Film Institute received additional funding in order also to preserve Swedish short and non-fiction films produced in Sweden until the early 1950's. In the mid 1990's a project of preserving films shot on colour acetate stock in 1950's, 60's and 70's began, since films produced on colour negatives during this period had proven to be subject to chemical deterioration, including severe colour fading.

Until 2011, duplication and analogue preservation work was carried out at various commercial laboratory facilities in Sweden and abroad. When the last full-scale photochemical laboratory in Sweden closed down in 2011, the Swedish Film Institute set up its own in-house facility in Rotebro, and during the period 2012-2022 more than one hundred films were preserved, mainly from unique nitrate prints. Read more about which films were duplicated in Rotebro below.

During the period in which the Swedish Film Institute had its own analogue lab, duplications were also made for external clients; mainly for non-Swedish film archives who wanted to acquire new prints of classic Swedish films. Find a list of to which film archives new prints were made below.

After the Swedish Film Institute decided to close the in-house laboratory in 2024, photochemical duplication and restoration is made on commission at laboratories abroad.