How it all started

One spring evening in 1984, standing in front of an audience at the Malmö cinema, Victoria—unique in its beautiful classic turn-of-the-century design—is Renata Åhlander and Göran Bjelkendal. The latter, one of the two people who founded Gothenburg Film Festival in 1979, is introduced by Renata as the big brother of BUFF, the brand new children’s and youth film festival. This is start of the festival and yet the audience does not yet fully understand what it will become. Big brother Gothenburg Film Festival and younger sister BUFF look both proud and slightly nervous about this moment which would become a defining moment for the Swedish film festival for children and young people.  

Ingela Brovik, journalist

The controversy around Troell and the Åmsele murders

In 1988, BUFF invited the director Jan Troell to hold a seminar and talk about his filmmaking. At the press conference afterwards he was asked what he was working on. The friendly and quiet Troell said that he was thinking about making a film about the brutal double murder in Åmsele in the north of Sweden, highly publicised at the time. He added that his intentions had been misunderstood but that he wasn’t keen to elaborate.

The reporter from TT, a newswire, picked up on Troell’s cautious statement and after a few hours the news that Troell was making a film about the bloody murder was published across the country. 

Naturally, the evening press got onto the story. The next morning I walked to central station to meet up with Stefan Jarl, who was moderating seminars that day. He gave me a telling off right there and then! Jarl had seen the evening papers’ news and threatened to withdraw from the seminars in a protest against BUFF inviting a director who speculated in murder and violence. 

We got a lot of press clippings that year. Many of them from the numerous local newspapers in Norrland, which had of course reported a lot about the dreadful double murder in Åmsele’s cemetery a few years earlier.

This was BUFF’s breakthrough in national media – and the papers in the north kept writing articles about that film festival in Malmö for years.

A few years later, I was there to see Jan Troell receive the Golden Bear for the feature film Il Capitano at the Berlin Film Festival. 

Ola Tedin

Former chairperson and active in BUFF 1986-2000

700 litres of fermented milk – no sour faces

It was a Friday evening, 27th January, during the 12th edition of BUFF. We were, as usual, driving really heavy boxes of film reels between different cinemas in Malmö. 

Ulf, Hans and I had delivered most of the reels to the corresponding cinemas when at around 19:00, we got an emergency call from the festival management: the artists in the old school gymnasium at Pildammskolan by Rådmansgatan needed about 100 litres of Swedish “fil”, fermented milk.

The three artists in the gymnasium, Johan Hagelbäck, Ann-Christin Reybekiel and Leif Högström were creating fil-art for the festival. 

Skånemejerier Dairies had sponsored the art with 600 litres of fil but the artists run out. The exhibition was due to open the next day. This was going to be expensive. We went to the Konsum grocery store in Triangeln in central Malmö and asked if we could buy all their fil. Easier said than done. The shop manager wanted to know why we needed all this fil and once he understood the situation, he explained to us that he needed some for his early customers the next morning. He could only spare 30 litres. We went to Åhléns, a department store, where we explained that “to perfect Thomas Ravelli’s penalty save in 1994 we need another 70 litres of fil”. They were more understanding and we left the store with another 60 litres. We were received with open arms by the happy artists as we rolled in these litres of their art material into a sour-smelling room.

‘The things you do for art,’ we thought as we went off into the night. 

Lennart Bylund – former Chair, active in BUFF 1985 – 2012.

Censorship and smuggled children in the theatre

My film Flickan, mamman och demonerna (“The girl, the mother and the demons”) got off to an absurd start, to say the least. Ready to premiere with an 11 rating, it received a 15 rating  just before BUFF. It had been censored for the children that were my target audience! And no school classes! I smuggled a few children into the BUFF premiere, with their parents’ permission of course. No harm was done! Instead, they were both gripped and touched by the film – in the right way. BUFF stands for quality and commitment to the art of film! Adults’ reactions to my film were ridiculous – in a world where commercial cruelty is approved and is allowed through. 

Suzanne Osten, director and scriptwriter

Stellan Skarsgård at BUFF

Actor Stellan Skarsgård had not yet conquered the international film world, but was well on his way after receiving an acting award for his role in ”The Simple-Minded Murderer” at the 1982 Berlin Film Festival. A couple of years later he opened BUFF in a convivial Skåne accent at the Royal cinema. That was a big moment. I was given an in-depth interview with him before the opening. There have been more interviews over the years, but we’ve always said “the first one was at BUFF”.

Annika Gustafsson, journalist

Stellan Skarsgård i Den enfaldige mördaren

Åhlin & Norsjtejn – a non-conversation

It must have been around 1990. A large audience of children had marvelled at Russian animator Jurij Norsjtejn’s Hedgehog in the fog at the magnificent Palladium cinema. Norsjtejn was in Malmö and the idea was to get him and Per Åhlin, our own doyen of animation, together to exchange ideas. Much in the same way you get children together at a grown-up’s party and say: Go play!

As the journalist there and then, I was supposed to get the talk going. Norsjtejn, internationally celebrated and sponsored by the French culture minister Jack Lang, only spoke Russian via an interpreter. And I literally had to drag out of him anything more substantial than some umming and the odd ‘sure’. Per Åhlin, understandably, looked quite grumpy. Silence settled on the room. I don’t think any further contact was ever made. On the other hand, both Per Åhlin and Jurij Norsjtejn manage absolutely fine on their own. 

Andreas Hoffsten, The Swedish Film Institute, journalist

Sports car with Ann Petrén

My best memory is when I got to pick up Ann Petrén at Malmö Airport in Media Evolution’s  red sports car. I’m not sure it was actually a sports car, but it’s a nice memory. 

Daniel Lundquist, Head of programming, BUFF

“Michael Laudrup” at BUFF

At some point in the 90s, probably 1995, we screened Michael Laudrup-en fodbolspiller (“Michael Laudrup: A Football Player”) as the closing film at Victoria. The closing film was always screened at Victoria at 15:00 and was usually an audience-friendly affair. 

Laudrup was a big player; he was with FC Barcelona at the time.

The theatre was filled to the brim with youths as I walked onto stage, wearing a football kit and with a ball under my arm. I exclaimed in Danish: “Hi, I’m Michael Laudrup”.

Some thought we had managed to get the real deal to visit while others sank back into their chairs.

Krister Kjellström, former programme director and chairperson. Active in BUFF 1986-2011. 

Battle animation!

One of all my memories of BUFF is from the gallery Malmö Konsthall in 1995. There’s a large screen made of sheet metal. Two school classes, one on either side of it, are using papermaché figures that could be moved directly across the screen. In front of the audience, the figures become animated and knock each other out, one by one, in a fierce battle. When the dust settled, a lone opera singer remains on the screen.                                            

Erling Ericsson, animator, author and educator. 


Who takes over 1986?

In the autumn of 1985, I visited Elisabet Edlund and Sten-Åke Hedström at the Film & Audience department at the Swedish Film Institute. I was not part of BUFF but of course I knew about the festival through working at Malmö Leisure Administration where the municipal culture secretary, Renata Åhlander, had instigated it all once upon a time. Renata had now taken a step back and BUFF had no leadership – the future was uncertain. I told this to the Swedish Film Institute and all of a sudden there was a lot of noise. Elisabeth and Sten-Åke pointed at me: “why don’t you get involved in BUFF?”. I had no idea how to arrange a film festival. Back in Malmö, I got hold of my friend, Lennart Bylund. Lennart and other friends at Fritidsförvaltningen (“leisure administration”) joined in to help, on a voluntary basis. Back then BUFF happened in January, so we didn’t have much time. On January 24, Lennart, myself and some other people inaugurated BUFF 1986 in the foyer at Royal. We didn’t really understand what was happening, but it was great fun. 

Lennart Ström, former festival director.