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Being Human: The Films of Roy Andersson

Dec 15 — Dec 31, 2023

Roy Andersson has had one of the most idiosyncratic careers of any great film director. After the success of his charming debut, A Swedish Love Story (1970), his bold follow-up, Giliap (1975), a wry neo-noir experiment, was a resounding commercial and critical failure. Chastened, Andersson stopped making features and became a successful director of TV commercials, minimalist comedies that were admired by Ingmar Bergman for their trenchant humor and inventive visuals. His success in advertising gave Andersson the resources to build his own film production facility, Studio 24, and he returned to making features in 2000 (at the age of 57) with his bittersweet existentialist comic masterpiece Songs from the Second Floor. Eschewing straightforward narratives, Andersson’s feature films since Songs are made of loosely related vignettes, filmed in long takes and meticulously crafted compositions worthy of Jacques Tati or Buster Keaton, on sets made with an artisan’s astonishing attention to detail and a poet’s ability to cut everything but the essential—while at the same time layered with ambiguity and mystery. Andersson’s subject is nothing more or less than the experience of being human, from the trivialities of daily life to the horrorsand, at times, the beautythat people create. The brilliance of his films is a strong rejoinder to the melancholic despair of their world view. 

Organized by David Schwartz, Curator-at-large. Made possible with assistance from the Consulate General of Sweden in New York (Aviva Neuman). Special thanks to Coproduction Office (Cecilia Pezzini, Zhana Kalinova), the Swedish Film Institute (Kajsa Hedström), Janus Films (Brian Belovarac), and Studio 24 (Johan Carlsson). 

 Note: All programs will include a selection of commercials directed by Roy Andersson.