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Biography

Swedish director. Born as Eric Michel Nilsson i Brussels. Resident in Belgium until 1951.-Eric M. Nilsson is one of the most original and unconventional filmmakers ever to have worked for Swedish television. With his essay-like, ambivalent and deeply serious films he explored the human condition in the 20th century, notably dissecting the problems of communication in a succession of films.Born in Brussels, Nilsson grew up in Belgium where his father was the head of a technology company. In 1951 the family moved to Sweden and Nilsson was forced to...

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Biography

Swedish director. Born as Eric Michel Nilsson i Brussels. Resident in Belgium until 1951.

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Eric M. Nilsson is one of the most original and unconventional filmmakers ever to have worked for Swedish television. With his essay-like, ambivalent and deeply serious films he explored the human condition in the 20th century, notably dissecting the problems of communication in a succession of films.

Born in Brussels, Nilsson grew up in Belgium where his father was the head of a technology company. In 1951 the family moved to Sweden and Nilsson was forced to master a new language, a subject to which he returned many times. Having left school and completed his military service he moved to Paris and studied the two-year film-directing course at IDHEC (Institut des Hautes Études Cinématographiques). Back in Sweden he found a job with the Swedish public broadcaster Sveriges Radio, in the television documentaries department under the legendary producer and director Lennart Ehrenborg. He worked there until 1967 when he turned freelance, albeit with Swedish Television as his principal source of commissions. He has made more than 100 films in various formats.

His first films were unassuming portraits of workplaces and urban environments, such as Kök ('Kitchen') and Djurgårdsfärjan ('The Djurgården Ferry'), both dating from 1963. With Ehrenborg's support and interest in cinema verité Nilsson was soon tasked to travel in Europe to make a number of short films. Here it was that he encapsulated the lives of quite unremarkable and ordinary people, yet also managed to explore mainstream history as in his Europa 1900 ('Europe 1900', 1968), which explores the history of luxury and highlights the problems surrounding memory and our impressions of the past. With En skola ('A School', 1968) Nilsson challenged both the conventions of documentary filmmaking and the ethics of Sveriges Radio. A critical examination of a Rudolf Steiner school in Stockholm, the film was perceived as both highly partisan and provocative and was strongly criticised by the Swedish Broadcasting Commission.

Eric M. Nilsson has also worked with autobiographical material, as in his Dubbla verkligheter ('Double Realities', 1995), in which he revisits his childhood and experiences of the Nazi occupation of Belgium. In 1996 the film won Nilsson Guldantennen, Sveriges Television's award for freelance filmmakers. Other films which sum up the essence of his art include Vad som helst... till synes ('Anything… Apparently', 1977), Apropå ord som kommunikation, begriplighet, makt, ensamhet ('About Words as Communication, Intelligibility, Power, Loneliness', 1979) in which the recurring question is how contexts are created and communication takes place. In these he also uses the technique of interviewing well-known people whilst at the same time keeping their status undetermined. Instead of the documentary filmmaker's traditional argumentation or information, Nilsson explores suggestion and challenging voids which have to be filled by the viewers themselves. Another recurring feature of his films are silent sequences which are succeeded by others which have an almost literary commentary and which are lent a distinct air of authority by the use of Nilsson's own voice.

In 1987 Eric M. Nilsson won a Swedish Guldbagge award for his efforts to "extend the limits of Swedish documentary filmmaking".

Lars Gustaf Andersson (2014)

(translated by Derek Jones)

Awards

Bo Widerberg Grant Båstad 1998
Guldantennen Television Award Stockholm 1996 Dubbla verkligheter
The Guldbagge Award Stockholm 1978 Special Achievement

Films

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