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 Queers, Kvinnan i ditt liv är du/The woman in your life is you and Eva & Maria.
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.
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 You, Bögjävlar 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:
WHO SUPPORTS US
The team of MAI supporters and contributors is always expanding. We’re honoured to have a specialist collective of editors, whose enthusiasm & talent gave birth to MAI.
However, to turn our MAI dream into reality, we also relied on assistance from high-quality experts in web design, development and photography. Here we’d like to acknowledge their hard work and commitment to the feminist cause. Our feminist ‘thank you’ goes to:
Dots+Circles – a digital agency determined to make a difference, who’ve designed and built our MAI website. Their continuous support became a digital catalyst to our idealistic project.
Guy Martin – an award-winning and widely published British photographer who’s kindly agreed to share his images with our readers
Chandler Jernigan – a talented young American photographer whose portraits hugely enriched the visuals of MAI website
Matt Gillespie – a gifted professional British photographer who with no hesitation gave us permission to use some of his work
Julia Carbonell – an emerging Spanish photographer whose sharp outlook at contemporary women grasped our feminist attention
Ana Pedreira – a self-taught Portuguese photographer whose imagery from women protests beams with feminist aura
And other photographers whose images have been reproduced here: Cezanne Ali, Les Anderson, Mike Wilson, Annie Spratt, Cristian Newman, Peter Hershey