We restore and duplicate Swedish films that are damaged or incomplete in order to give access to them in the best condition possible. For more information on the priorities, principles and methods involved in active preservation, see our Collection Policy. Our policy is aligned with recommendations from the Technical Commission of FIAF, as published in FIAF Technical Commission Preservation Best Practice.
Swedish professional 35mm film was almost exclusively produced on cellulose nitrate stock until 1953. Nitrate stock is self-destructible if stored in bad conditions and it is also highly inflammable; it self-ignites at +38ºC resulting in an unstoppable fire.
All Swedish feature-length films that have been rediscovered from the nitrate era have been preserved and duplicated onto safety stock. But there are still 56 Swedish sound features that are considered lost.
More than half of all Swedish silent films are considered lost. Fortunately, some films that have been considered lost are still discovered by private collectors or in foreign archives. When a lost film re-appears, we restore and preserve the nitrate element and strike new preservation and viewing elements on safety stock.
Many of the short films produced during the nitrate era still only exist on nitrate stock, and are therefore not accessible. One of our priorities is to preserve these films and to duplicate them onto safety stock.
From the early 1950s until the mid-1990s almost all professional 35mm films were produced on cellulose acetate stock, which is a more stable carrier than nitrate stock. However, if acetate films are stored under bad conditions they can be affected by the 'vinegar syndrome', a chemical deterioration process.
Another threat to acetate films is the colour fading of films shot on tri-pack colour negatives in the 1950s, 60s and 70s. In the mid-1990s the Swedish Film Institute was allocated extra funding by the government to tackle this problem, which has been a priority ever since. Almost 130 colour feature films from the period in question have now been preserved, by locating the negatives and by striking new preservation and viewing elements.
Since the early 1990s all 35mm viewing prints are made on polyester base, while negatives are still almost exclusively made on acetate stock.
Restoring and duplicating inflammable nitrate films onto safety stock is one of the Archival Film Collections’ main preservation missions. Photo: Gert Moberg.