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Alice Bah Kuhnke is no longer a government minister, Minister for Culture and Democracy


Speech by Alice Bah Kuhnke at the inauguration of the Göteborg Film Festival 2017


Göteborg, 27 January 2017.
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Friends and film-lovers,

Being here with you tonight marks for me the end of a very intensive and emotional couple of days in Gothenburg. Today, 27 January, is Holocaust Remembrance Day, marking the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp exactly 72 years ago.

And it is at moments like these that I think with enormous gratitude about culture. And about film, which reflects people's fates so well; tells stories that have not yet been told; documents and compiles. The story of us, of what came before and what is to come.

Racism and nationalism are tightening their grip in Europe and the world at the moment. Authoritarian leaders are stepping forward and presenting simple solutions to complex problems. Fundamental conditions for a democracy, such as respect for facts, freedom of the press and the equal value of all people, are flagrantly ignored. This is happening in countries that until very recently felt very close to ours.

But this trend is a complex one, and alongside the very worrying path some countries have chosen there is a greater openness and commitment to the equal value of all people. And the variety of films the Gothenburg Film Festival is presenting over the coming days really shows this. I have read the festival programme and I can see how it captures our time. Social exclusion, belonging on one's own terms, religion and vulnerability are portrayed from various starting points.

The choice of 'religion' as the festival theme is both brave and perfectly natural. And it was high time for Sápmi to receive attention as a film region in a coherent way.

Artistic director Jonas Holmberg will discuss the possible midlife crisis the festival may be experiencing as it turns 40. In my view, if there has been a crisis, the festival has got through it. This festival shows the maturity one likes to see in a 40-year-old – not anxious, but forward-looking; with a certain authority but firmly rooted in the present. Celebrating the festival's 40th birthday by showing the opening film simultaneously at 40 cinemas for SEK 40 per ticket is very much in line with this, and very elegant!

This is a new year and a new film policy has taken effect. As Minister for Culture and Democracy, I have great expectations for what it will lead to. Of course, many challenges remain and there are no simple solutions to the challenges facing the Swedish film industry. We are many that are convinced that a change was necessary and I am also being met with an enthusiasm for the new policy, as well as a satisfaction that the fundamental aspects of film policy have been discussed.

The film festivals have always been key actors for spreading a broad range of films – and this is something you are demonstrating very clearly today.

As we all know, 84 countries are represented by the 457 films being shown this week. It is great to see film-makers, audiences, artists, politicians and debaters meeting and discussing different issues, experiences and with the Gothenburg Film Festival as the backdrop. This enriches cultural expression in Swedish film. And it enriches our entire country.

With these words I would like to wish you the best of luck and declare the 2017 Gothenburg Film Festival open.

Thank you.