Songs from the Second Floor. 2000. Sweden/Norway/Denmark. Directed by Roy Andersson

Roy Andersson’s (Swedish, b. 1943) earliest films—rarely shown school projects from the 1960s, culminating in his first feature, A Swedish Love Story—are related thematically and stylistically to the films of the then influential Czech New Wave. Since that time, the director has moved away from this youthful realism toward a contemporary style characterized by stationary shots and brilliantly conceived tableaux, yet an essential humanity and focus on the daily lives of working-class people remains integral to his work. Andersson shows an utter disregard for traditional “sacred cows,” even in his commercials, which were his primary cinematic output during his “exile” from filmmaking following 1975’s disastrous Giliap. His films, while always artistically compelling and often leaning toward the absurd, take aim at everything from petty bourgeois self-satisfaction and the corruption of the social democratic welfare state to World War II, consumerism, and notions of national solidarity. No subject is too big or too small, and nothing is off limits—and this clear-eyed courage has often put him at odds with society’s tastemakers.

Andersson’s biting humor and idiosyncratic filmmaking style have flourished further since the establishment of his own independent company, Studio 24. All production since 1980 has originated from this famous studio, where the director and a tight-knit group of young collaborators, known collectively as “The Team,” work together from concept to completion, creating the special brand of labor-intensive, proudly artisanal, and highly sophisticated films that have become Andersson’s trademark.

Organized by Jytte Jensen, Curator, Department of Film. Grateful thanks to Studio 24 (Hend Aroal); the Swedish Film Institute (Filmarkivet: Johan Ericsson; International Department: Gunnar Almer); Consulate General of Sweden, New York; Palisades Tartan (Debbi Berlin); Svensk Filmindustri; Maria Forsheim Lund; and Sub-Ti.

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