New course: Scandinavian Film and Television

Evaluating the Achievement of One Hundred Years of Scandinavian CinemaI am starting a new course today on Coursera on Scandinavian Film and Television. Here is the course’s public summary:

In many ways Scandinavian film and television is a global cultural brand, connected with and exporting some of the cultural and social values connected to a liberal and progressive welfare society. This course deals with the social, institutional and cultural background of film and television in Scandinavia and in a broader European and global context.

I was asked to make a video introduction and answer why I am interested in this topic. Here it goes. I shot the video, but didn’t like the footage, so I am only sharing the transcript (with links).

I watch a lot of movies and if I know more about their background and history and be able to put them in historical and geographical context I will get more out enjoy putting them into context. As I enjoyed several Scandinavian movies in the past it is time to learn more about where they came from and how they relate to each other.

I grew up in Hungary with great access to classic European movies, so I watched a lot of old movies, including Ingmar Bergman’s, such as The Seventh Seal and Fanny and Alexander. The only other Scandinavian movies I can recall right now from the 1980’s that I’ve seen are Babette’s Feast and Pelle the Conqueror.

Right around when the dogma films and movement started I moved to the US, where my access to European movies was much more limited then. Nevertheless, my mother, who is a serious film lover too, kept me informed from Hungary and sometimes sent me DVDs too. So I saw The Idiots, a bit later Italian for Beginners and more that elude me this second.

In recent years I saw a number of Scandinavian movies that I deeply appreciated and admired, for example Lars von Trier’s Breaking the WavesDancer in the Dark (I haven’t seen yet his latest Melancholia and Nymphomaniac), but also possibly less famous ones, like Dear Wendy, Kitchen Stories, A Royal Affair, Brothers, Adam’s Apple and Hawaii Oslo and the Swedish version of the Millenium trilogy. I also enjoyed comedies like Buddy or even the older Olsen Gang films.

Besides learning more about the culture these movies came from I hope to discover many more movies worthy to watch. I also own and run two film related websites and hope to include more, relevant Scandinavian movies on them. One of them is filmandreligion.com and I am sure I will be exposed to more Scandinavian films with interesting religious themes. The other site is, jewishfilmfestivals.org, which primarily deals with movies that has something to do with Jews and/or Judaism. the latest movie that overlaps these two worlds I have seen was the excellent Simon and the Oaks.

I left an even more personal note to the end. I am enjoying a current Swedish/American sitcom titled Welcome to Sweden. It contrasts pretty well the differences in the culture of the USA and Sweden. Watching this reminded me that I visited Sweden several times, but last time was 25 years ago. Also, my wife has some Norwegian blood and she visited Norway 5 years ago. So there is some personal connection too.

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