måndag, januari 11, 2010

Svenska filminstitutet/Swedish Film Institute - an undemocratic organization

The Swedish Film institute (SFI) is a foundation working with promotion of Swedish film in Sweden and abroad. They are also responsible for the Cinemateque in Stockholm.
On their information site we can read:

The Swedish Film Institute Foundation works to promote film across the board – from idea to finished product, during launch in Sweden and around the world, and by preserving films for posterity in our archives
.

One of many problems with this organization is the fact that it's a foundation.
Why is this a problem?
As a foundation and according to Swedish legislation, the SFI is not obliged to follow the freedom of information legislation in its entirety.
Decisions concerning e.g. employment, can not be appealed to higher authorities if you find these very same decisions incorrect and unjust (something I've experienced through my wife).
SFI is not obliged to state the reasons for a specific decision, as is otherwise the case in other organisational structures.
Not even the government - from where some of their fundings derive - is able to intervene.

As far as I have seen SFI employ people from an ethnically homogeneous perspective, following a very traditional strategy, namely prefering people who speak the native language without accent, eating the same food, having the same references and thinking in the same way.
SFI obviously prefer employing well known people or those who already work within the organisation (SFI), being of Scandinavian origin of course.
When investigating the organisational structure, I could only find one non-Scandinavian in a higher position, namely the first Chief Executive Harry Schein (1963-78)!
They also seem incapable of understanding foreign university degrees, something very obvious when my wife applied for a job at SFI. This experience is shared by many foreign academics.

The so called Film commisioners are responsible for the selection of films who ultimately will get economic support from SFI. The final decision is taken by the board but they seldom oppose the suggestions from the Film commisioners.
The problem in this case is that there are very few Film commisioners, five as a whole: one film commisioner for each group (short film, documentaries, children's films) except feature films having two film commisioners in charge
This is of course very troublesome for film makers as it limits the multitude of ideas and make this organisational structure very monolithic.

When looking at the Cinematheque in Stockholm, some people still working there were employed twenty-five years ago, in many cases without any relevant formal education in the field!
This is of course devastating for the development of the Cinematheque in Stockholm, visible not least in the declining interest among Cinemateque-members.
Most 'cinephiles' I've met who on a regular basis have been visiting the Cinematheque the last two-three decades, complain about the low quality and lack of imagination when it comes to the programming.
Now it seems as if SFI is more inclined to create a sort of 'event' profile, concerning the Cinematheque, including bars and beers and other superficial means to draw attention to their work.
They have obviously forgotten what a Cinematheque actually is and why it initially came about.
If this is the case and the goal is to change the content radically, why not call the Cinematheque something else, like the Film Event Club?!

SFI is in bad need of competent people but the competent and visionary people work elsewhere (as directors or abroad), not within the SFI!


(Photo Svenska Filminstitutet, Gärdet copied from: http://www.voodoofilm.org/images/artiklar/dromfabriken2003/filmhuset.jpg)

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