The Velvet Café

A room for thoughts about movies

….and the winner is a woman! – Musings over the Swedish Guldbaggen Awards

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Not only Hollywood knows how to celebrate itself each year with awards. Sweden does the same thing, although in a much smaller scale.

This annual event is called Guldbaggen. I don’t blame you if you’ve never heard of it. It’s been going on for 50 years, but from all I can get it’s an entirely Swedish affair.

Similarities and differences
There are some similarities to the Oscars: film professionals of all sorts dress up in tuxedos and dresses, put on a lot of make-up and smile into the camera since the show is broadcasted on national television.

Awards are given out in pretty much the same categories, though there are a little fewer of them – no special categories for sound editing and sound mixing, in Sweden it’s just “sound”. There are also only three nominations in each category instead of five. I guess it’s because we don’t make that many movies in Sweden.

Then we have the differences:  The “celebrities” aren’t real celebrities outside of their own world. And the winners don’t get golden statuettes in their hands. They get a humble, rather ugly beetle. It’s basically like watching a kick-off event for a random business enterprise where you don’t know anyone. Or think of it as the school theatre version of Hamlet compared to seeing it played at the National Royal theatre scene.

Usually I don’t blog about this event since I assume it doesn’t interest anyone outside of Sweden. I’ve also been rather unenthusiastic about Swedish films over the last few years. 2014 however is a little different from previous years. For one thing there were several Swedish movies that came out 2013 that I genuinely liked, movies such as Lukas Moodysson’s We are the Best, Lisa Langseth’s Hotell and Anna Odell’s The Reunion.

But there was another reason why the Guldbaggen Award event stood out to me this year, to the extent that I want to spread the word about it outside of the Swedish borders.

Female winners
I don’t think I need to remind you of how men on a global level dominate the film industry and how rare it is that a female filmmaker is recognized with an award or even by being screened at for instance Cannes. Yes, Bigelow had her well-deserved statuette, but there isn’t much else to rejoice at.

And from this point of view, the gender equality, the Guldbaggen Awards were extraordinary. Women didn’t only win categories where women traditionally have appeared, such as make-up and costume. They won most of the categories with weight, the ones that get the headlines.

Here are some of the winners:

Best Film
The Reunion / Återträffen (Producer: Mathilde Dedye, director and writer: Anna Odell)

Best Short Film
On Suffocation (Director: Jenifer Malmqvist)

Best Documentary Film
Belleville Baby (Director: Mia Engberg)

Best Screenplay
The Reunion / Återträffen (Anna Odell)

The greatest thing about it was that not a single one of the awards that were handed out that night felt as if they were a result of reserving a certain quota for women for political reasons or whatnot. The awards were given out in fair competition and were well deserved.

Watching all of this I couldn’t help feeling a pang of national pride for an ever so brief moment. “This is how far we’ve come”, I thought to myself. “I wonder how many years it will be before we see an Academy Award show that looks anyway like this. Will it even happen in my lifetime?”

Then I noticed how bad the jokes of the in-between-the-award entertainers were and I was back down to Earth. Sweden is a small country. We’re pretty good at gender stuff – not so good at classy glamour. Despite deficiency in regards of female representation, you can’t beat the real thing. That’s just how it is.

But who knows, perhaps the Swedish example can serve as a source of inspiration from some young, aspiring female filmmaker out there who hope to one day receive the golden man in her hand? I hope so.


Written by Jessica

January 22, 2014 at 10:05 pm

3 Responses

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  1. Isn’t that three years in a row for female directors?

    On a related topic, maybe you know the answer to this. Can you tell me what the Best Foreign Language film winner has been the last two years? I never updated my Gulbagge list at my Lists from Chip site last year because I’ve been unable to find this out. All I’ve seen are three nominees for 2013 (Moonrise Kingdom, Laurence Always, Amour) and two for 2014 (Blue is the Warmest Color, La vie d’Adele), but no winners listed.

    Chip Lary

    January 23, 2014 at 5:28 pm

    • I think it might be actually. At least there was a female director who won last year.

      Re: Best foreign language: 2013= Amour, 2014= Blue is the Warmest Color.


      January 29, 2014 at 3:51 pm

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