Experimental Film as Marketing Strategy: Sponsored Film Culture in Postwar Sweden

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In Sweden during the 1940s and 50s, many artistically ambitious filmmakers, like Arne Sucksdorff, Gösta Werner, and Peter Weiss, sought and gained financial aid from sponsors within the industry. Whereas many sponsored films document and communicate industrial processes, these films are more creatively oriented and experiment with film as an artistic expression. Although economic concerns undoubtedly constitute one of the central driving forces behind the production of sponsored films, the films discussed in this paper centrally raise questions concerning the importance attributed to culture and the arts at this specific period in time.

Using film theorist Thomas Elsaesser’s (2005) notion of the three A’s as a starting point––the questions “wer war der Auftraggeber” (who commissioned the film), “was war der Anlass” (what was the occasion for which it was made) and “was war die Anwendung oder der Adressat” (to what use was it put or to whom was it addressed)––this paper seeks to comparatively study which sponsors requested artistic films, for what reason and to what use.

The postwar period has been characterized as a golden age for Scandinavian modernism, particularly within literature, architecture and the arts. Whereas many sponsors saw film as a cutting-edge mass medium able to improve their communication strategies, there was also a documented interest from sponsors in artistic films as a mode of advertising. This paper shows that sponsored films reached a broad and diversified audience: first, many films gained a broad mainstream audience acting as program filler in film theaters; second, the films appealed to film aficionados both domestically and internationally receiving distribution in local cinéclubs and film societies as well as competitive international film festivals; and third, the films were seen by a demographic linked to the sponsors, through internal distribution outlets and screenings at conferences. Drawing on this, the Swedish postwar period has been labeled as a unique era where short films of this kind could enjoy commercial success on the marketplace. Drawing on sociologist Pierre Bourdieu (1986), who discussed value and famously wrote on capital in all its different forms, this paper argues that this body of films has been ascribed multiple functions––as an artistic object, as an historical object and as a server of a utilitarian purpose.
StatusUnpublished - 2015
EvenemangSociety for Cinema and Media Studies, 2015 - Montréal, Kanada
Varaktighet: 2015 mars 252015 mars 29


KonferensSociety for Cinema and Media Studies, 2015

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