Festival History

The first ever Uppsala Short Film Festival takes place September 1-5. The world’s first film, Lumière’s A Train Arrives at the Station inaugurates the festival at the small Totemteatern, where the first screenings are held. Membership is 25 SEK and includes an all programmes pass. The written programme comes with a warning: “A system of queuing will be applied, should there be a demand for it”. The festival is a success with the audience. The programme includes both old and new films, from the first film made in Uppsala to films by Kristian Petri, Harald Hamrell and the now classic The Holiday Home by Birgitta Jansson.

With taglines like “If Cannes can, Uppsala can” and “6-8 premieres a day” the festival is screening new documentaries from The People’s Republic of China and Czechoslovakia, among other films. The festival has developed rapidly over the past year and has met with good response from filmmakers and distributors abroad. Many of the films screened have a tendency to bring up discussions surrounding contemporary society, such as the realities of the cold war, nuclear threat and modern technology. In addition to the Totemteatern and Fyris, films are also screened at Fagotten in the suburb of Gottsunda. Jiri Barta’s fascinating Zanikly svet rukavic (The Lost Kingdom of Gloves) is awarded for best animation and the award for best documentary goes to Jan Röed and Göran Söderström for their Några mil från Hötorget.

The festival continues to grow and films from all around the world are screened. In the words of the organisers: “Our goal is as simple as it is obvious. To broaden the output of films in Sweden. We see so many amazing films at festivals abroad and get discouraged by the narrow-minded output in Sweden. Who wants to see American crazy comedy or extreme violence every time they go to the cinema?” Special programmes are devoted to the films of Norman McLaren and Lasse Åberg as well as those of the National Film & Television School. From this year on the festival takes place in October.

The festival presents “more film than ever before”: 130 films from 28 countries. 25 of these are feature films. Up until 1992, the festival also included features in the programme. The festival runs for 10 days, this year at Fyrisbiografen and Filmstaden. “Here is an excellent opportunity to get a glimpse of how countries all over the world put to use this wondrous medium called film!” proclaims the organisers in the festival catalogue. The Children’s Film Festival becomes a part of the festival programme.

Suzanne Osten inaugurates the festival at this year when inordinately many animation films are screened. Contemporary events, such as the murder of Swedish Prime Minister Palme and the Chernobyl disaster make their mark on the programme. The Dennis O’Rourke documentary Half Life gains in topicality and the theme One Earth – Two Worlds, about the gulf between the Third World and the I-world is dedicated to Olof Palme. The film exhibition and café arranged at the Art museum become a success and a popular meeting place.

Marie-Louise De Geer Bergenstråhle inaugurates the festival. Spegeln, the largest cinema in Uppsala, is the newest addition to the festival venues. Films by Sally Potter,Quay Brothers, Eric Rohmer and Frédéric Back are presented at a festival which, in the words of the organisers, has “grown a little bit more despite restraint on our part”.

Film festivals in Sweden are still few and far between. In the catalogue, festivals are characterised as being beneficial for the general interest in film. “Is it a coincidence that in the two cities with the highest cinema attendance, Gothenburg and Uppsala, also reside major film festivals? Does the interaction between a film interested public and a film festival create a new interest in cinema and an improved climate for film in general?”.

Film by women is highlighted in a special section. Bahram Beyzaies feature film Bashu, the first film to come out of Iran after the revolution, is screened. The recently immigrated actress Susan Taslimi is present during the sold out screening. The ticket prices have varied over the years. This year the price for one screening is 25 SEK and the membership is just as much.

A great year for animation film. Original stills from Soviet animation film are exhibited, as well as stills by Michel Ocelot, who also attends the festival. Major figures in animation history, such as Wladislaw Starewiscz and Pixar, are highlighted in programmes and seminars. Aardman animations’ Lip Sync films take the audience by storm. Nick Park’s Creature Comforts proves to be the most popular, winning both the award for best animation and the audience award. An extensive special programme is devoted to the theme of eroticism in film, screening films from the Philippines to Denmark, with topics ranging from love to power and discussions are held to determine whether Madonna is a feminist and the line between artistic eroticism and pornography. Last year’s focus on film by women is carried over into this year with “the worlds of women”, a series of programmes of films from the world over. This is the year when Lars Hedenstedt, who has been the head of the festival ever since the start, resigns his position as Festival Director.

The festival celebrates the 10-year anniversary. Highlights from the first 10 years are screened. Margarethe von Trotta is guest of honour and the festival limits itself to the two cinemas Skandia and Slotts. Hugo Wortzelius, film critic for Upsala Nya Tidning and a faithful supporter ever since the start, passes away during this year.

The festival is once again a film festival strictly devoted to short film and the only one of its kind in Sweden. Roy Andersson visits the festival with his work in progress Something Happened, the controversial and highly publicized commissioned by the National Board of Health and Welfare. Retrospectives on Marv Newland and Piotr Dumala are screened, as are new films by Susanne Bier, Ella Lemhagen and Mathieu Kassovitz. This year marks the return of the festival pass, an all access pass at this point in time priced 150 SEK.


As a result from the previous year, the programme of 1994 only contains 50 films. Many are of high interest though, especially from the Nordic countries. New films by Jan Troell, Lisa Ohlin, and Jannik Hastrup are screened, as well as Eija-Liisa Ahtila’s Me/we, Gray and Okay . Not to forget the very special musical experience of M A Numminen sings Wittgenstein.

The festival recuperates and during the five days of the festival, 178 short films are screened. Well known short film and documentary film makers, such as Mattias Müller, Marcel Lozinski and Susanna Edwards participate, as do several film makers that will later make a name for themselves in the world of feature film. Among them are Erick Zonca and Reza Parsa, whose Gränsen is awarded as the best fiction film. Seminars on film restauration and experimental film are held and the festival pub suffers an attack from a smoke bomb.

The festival reaches its 15th year and the festival organisers sum it up in the catalogue: “The shape of the festival has changed quite a bit over the course of these 15 years, but the basic idea and ideology remain – filmmakers from Sweden and the rest of the world should have a forum for screening their short films and the residents of Uppsala should have a chance to experience the rich world of film that hides behind the regular output in the cinemas.” A very topical seminar covers the issue of how the image, film and society are affected by the new information technology: “Will the information society create new elites?” Håkan Alexandersson is a retrospective guest and Thirty Five Aside is awarded as the best children’s film at a festival with an impressive programme but disappointing attendance.

The Nordic Video Section, with a focus on documentaries and art film, is introduced. Documentaries are also a point of focus for the rest of the festival. Peå Holmqvist’s and Suzanne Khardalian’s Hennes armeniske prins about Göta Erzinkian from Uppsala is the opening film and a seminar on ethics in documentary films is held. A retrospecive is screened on Vilgot Sjöman’s short documentaries and Måns Adolfsson makes his debut as the artist behind the festival poster.

The festival continues to grow and it offers more screenings in more days than the year before. There is also an additional festival venue in Grand, an old cinema that has been restored after a violent fire in 1995. The first Film School Day takes place. A retrospective on Jan Troell is screened and documentaries by 90-year-old Henri Cartier-Bresson are screened in a special programme. Uppsala is, since a few years back, recognised, as the only festival in the Nordic countries, by the academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Thanks to this recognition, award winners La Carte Postale from Belgium and Victor by Joel Bergwall and Simon Sandquist go on to be nominated for an Academy Award.

Marita Ulvskog, Minister of Culture, inaugurates a festival which presents the most extensive special programme in recent years: British Humour in Shorts – from silent film comedies to Wallace & Gromit. It is a smash hit with the audience and the attendance numbers, which have increased steadily since 1997, continue to grow. The festival programme is reformed to make for a clearer section structure. The award system is also remodelled and the first Uppsala Grand Prix is awarded. A selection of short films is screened on the Internet and yet another award winner from Uppsala, Stora och små mirakel by Marcus Olsson, is nominated for an Academy Award. This year marks the 15th anniversary of the Children’s Film Festival.

The festival is inaugurated by the President of the Swedish Film Institute, Åse Kleveland, and the festival gains the national recognition of the Swedish Film Institute as the premier forum for international short film in Sweden. Participation in Uppsala makes Swedish films eligible for a nomination for the “Guldbagge” award, the Swedish national film award, and the festival has two representatives in the nomination committee for the categories Best short film and Best documentary film. More than 200 films are screened and the efforts to compile extensive special programmes continue with Filmland Finland, on the con-temporary short film of Finland. Short films and commercials are screened in a retrospective on Roy Andersson and the London Lesbian & Gay Film Festival make a guest appearance.

The festival celebrates its 20th year with the anniversary programme 20 Years of the Uppsala Short Film Festival – 100 Years of Short Film. New film from all over the world is screened with silent film accompanied by klezmer music, film school film, a retrospective on Carl Johan De Geer and much more, in a programme that may be the most extensive so far. After a few years with continuous changes in leadership in the mid-nineties, the festival has now had the same management for several years. Audience numbers and finances has steadily increased and the festival enters its third decade forcefully.