En armé av älskande: A Film by Ingrid Ryberg

by: & Ingrid Ryberg , May 16, 2019

© Screenshot from En armée av älskande (2018) dir. Ingird Ryberg

MAI: Hi there, Ingrid. I love your film. Congratulations. I know this has been a long road for you to make this film. It’s a true labour of love. Many of our readers from outside Sweden may not have heard of your film yet so can you tell them a little bit about this project.

Ingrid Ryberg: En armé av älskande is a documentary about queer filmmaking as a crucial part of the gay liberation movement in Sweden in the 1970s. In 1977, the same year that the first liberation march paraded through Stockholm, three pivotal queer films began production: Bögjävlar/Damned QueersKvinnan i ditt liv är du/The woman in your life is you and Eva & Maria.

© Screenshot from En armée av älskande (2018) dir. Ingird Ryberg
© Screenshot from En armée av älskande (2018) dir. Ingird Ryberg
© Screenshot from En armée av älskande (2018) dir. Ingird Ryberg

MAI: And why were these films in particular so important? They have quite an unusual history.

IR: Yes! For the first time, open lesbians and gay men were granted state funding for depicting their own realities, stories about finding love and community and confronting society’s rampant homophobia and traditional gender roles. The two lesbian films were curiously funded by the National Board of Health and Welfare, the same state agency that at the time classified homosexuality as a mental disorder. Hilariously, one of them was funded by a budget for abortion prevention measures! In my documentary, rich archive is brought to life and recharged with urgency in dialogue with newly shot documentary scenes and interviews with the film activists of the 1970s, capturing the strength and magic in creating another world and living one’s own life.



© Screenshot from En armée av älskande (2018) dir. Ingird Ryberg
© Screenshot from En armée av älskande (2018) dir. Ingird Ryberg
© Screenshot from En armée av älskande (2018) dir. Ingird Ryberg

MAI: What was your personal motivation for conducting this archival research and making this film?

IR: For more than fifteen years, I have explored queer cultural production in creative and academic projects. I keep returning to a fundamental question about how queer subcultures and filmmaking can create alternative worlds and open up new possibilities of living beyond and in spite of homo-, bi- and transphobia. The utopian quality of queer imagination also lies at the heart of this project. By reclaiming the image of themselves, the fearless queer filmmakers of the 1970s took revolutionary steps out of invisibility and stigma. Born during the same period when they shot their films, I feel great admiration and gratefulness for their courage. As the first open attempts to challenge the dominant homophobic imagination that I also grew up surrounded by, The Woman In Your Life Is YouBögjävlar and Eva and Maria move me deeply. It upsets me that I did not learn about them until I was already a queer filmmaker myself and that they have remained unnoticed and marginalised in standard accounts of Swedish film history for so long. Coming across an even less known body of amateur footage documenting queer subculture in Sweden as far back as the 1960s has been overwhelming. These vital and empowering moving images are crucial testimonies of a history of activism and resistance in dire need of becoming part of our cultural memory today as we face the new threats of right-wing extremism.

You can watch the trailer for En armé av älskande here:

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