Roy Andersson

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Roy Andersson
Roy Andersson in 2014.
Roy Arne Lennart Andersson

(1943-03-31) 31 March 1943 (age 80)
OccupationFilm director
Years active1967–present

Roy Arne Lennart Andersson (born 31 March 1943) is a Swedish film director, best known for his distinctive style of absurdist humor and melancholic depictions of human life. His personal style is characterized by long takes, and stiff caricaturing of Swedish culture and grotesque. Over his career Andersson earned prizes from the Cannes Film Festival, Berlin International Film Festival and Venice International Film Festival.

Andersson spent much of his professional life working on advertisement spots, directing over 400 commercials and two short films; directing six feature-length films in six decades. He made his feature film debut with A Swedish Love Story (1970) followed by Giliap (1975). Anderson received the Cannes Film Festival Jury Prize for Songs from the Second Floor (2000). His film A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence (2014) won the Venice International Film Festival's Golden Lion. His other notable films include You, the Living (2007), and About Endlessness (2019).

Early life and education[edit]

Andersson was born in Uddevalla, Sweden in 1943. He graduated from the Swedish Film Institute in 1968.


1969–1992: Early work[edit]

He directed his first feature-length film, A Swedish Love Story (1969). The film, awarded four prizes the same year at the 20th Berlin International Film Festival, looked at the nature and nuance of young love and turned out to be a major critical and popular success for Andersson. Following this success, Andersson fell into a depression. As he didn't want to get stuck with the same style and expectations he cancelled what was going to be his next project, with the script half-way finished, and skipped a couple of other ideas for plots he had previously planned to realize.[1] Eventually he directed the film Giliap which was released in 1975. The film was a financial and critical disaster, went wildly over budget, and suffered lengthy delays in post-production. Giliap went in a decidedly different direction from A Swedish Love Story – replacing crowd-pleasing joy and soft humour with dark comedy and unforgiving deadpan. After Giliap, Andersson took a 25-year break from film directing, focusing his efforts mainly on his commercial work.

In 1981 he established Studio 24, an independent film company and studio located in central Stockholm. Later, he directed a short-film commissioned by the Swedish National Board of Health and Welfare entitled Something Happened. Made in 1987, the short was meant to be played at schools all over Sweden as an educational film about AIDS, but was canceled when it was three-fourths complete because of its overly dark nature and controversial use of sources. The official explanation was that it was "too dark in its message," and it wasn't officially shown until 1993. His next short film, 1991's World of Glory, developed this style even further and was a critical success, winning both the Canal Plus Award and the Press Prize at the 1992 Clermont-Ferrand Short Film Festival. The film is on a top ten list of all-time best short films, set by the Clermont-Ferrand festival.


In March 1996, Andersson began filming Songs from the Second Floor, a film that was completed four years later in May 2000. After its premiere at the 2000 Cannes Film Festival the film also became an international critical success. It won the Jury Prize in Cannes[2] and five Guldbagge Awards in Sweden for best film, direction, cinematography, screenplay and sound. The film was made up of forty-six long tableaux shots, marrying tough, bleak social criticism with his characteristic absurdist dead-pan and surrealism.

Roy Andersson continued his commercial work at Studio 24 and his next film You, the Living premiered at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival as part of the Un Certain Regard selection. The film won the Nordic Council Film Prize in 2008. The Museum of Modern Art in New York City presented a retrospective of Andersson's work in September 2009.

He expressed his desire to make a new film that could be considered the third part in a trilogy together with his two latest films, and publicly stated that he was planning "a third enormous, deep and fantastic, humorous and tragic, philosophical, Dostoyevsky film."[3] In an interview with Ignatiy Vishnevetsky, Andersson revealed that he would be shooting his next film in high-definition video, possibly using the Red One camera, and that it would represent a departure in style from his previous two films.[4] The film, titled A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence[5] was released in 2014 and won the Golden Lion for Best Film in competition at the 71st Venice International Film Festival.

The Museum of Arts and Design in New York City presented a retrospective of Andersson's work entitled It's Hard to Be Human: The Cinema of Roy Andersson in 2015.[6][7]

In 2019 he released his fourth film About Endlessness which won the Silver Lion at the Venice International Film Festival. Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian praised the film writing, "[The film] is another of Andersson’s superb anthologies of the human condition: people with a zombie-white pallor enclosed in enigmatic tableaux, populating his utterly unique world of unreality and artificiality, scenes of tragicomedy inspired by Tati and Monty Python and created with masterly model work and green-screen effects in the studio. He shows moments of all too human weakness, weariness, gentleness, bewilderment, despair; there are nauseating visions of war crimes, returning us to the genocidal horror he showed in his 1991 short film World of Glory."[8]


Andersson has cited Italian neorealism and the Czech New Wave as major influences on his work.[9] He has also cited influences ranging from Spanish painter Francisco Goya and the Dutch artist Pieter Bruegel to the Italian director Federico Fellini and French absurdist filmmaker Jacques Tati.[10][11]

In 2012, Andersson participated in the Sight & Sound film polls of that year. Held every ten years to select the greatest films of all time, contemporary directors were asked to select ten films of their choice. Andersson stated: "All the ten films are excellent and fascinating artistic expressions about what I would call mankind’s both raw and delightful existence. These movies make us wiser." He added "My absolute favourite is Bicycle Thieves, the most humanistic and political film in history. Viridiana is the most intelligent and Hiroshima mon amour is the most poetic."[12] His choices are listed below, in alphabetical order:



Year English Title Original Ref.
1970 A Swedish Love Story En kärlekshistoria [13]
1975 Giliap [14]
2000 Songs from the Second Floor Sånger från andra våningen [15]
2007 You, the Living Du levande [16]
2014 A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence En duva satt på en gren och funderade på tillvaron [17]
2019 About Endlessness Om det oändliga

Short films[edit]

Year English Title Original Ref.
1967 Visiting One's Son Besöka sin son
1968 The White Game Den vita sporten [18]
1968 Hämta en cykel
1969 Lördagen den 5.10
1987 Something Happened Någonting har hänt [19]
1991 World of Glory Härlig är jorden [20]


Years Title Ref.
1967–1972 "List of commercials". Archived from the original on March 14, 2007. Retrieved March 29, 2005.
1973–1980 "List of commercials". Archived from the original on April 19, 2007. Retrieved March 29, 2005.
1981–1990 "List of commercials". Archived from the original on March 14, 2007. Retrieved March 29, 2005.
1991– "List of commercials". Archived from the original on March 14, 2007. Retrieved March 29, 2005.
IMDb link

Awards and honors[edit]

Andersson is considered one of the most important living European film directors, having four films officially submitted for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film as Swedish entries.

His 2014 film A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence won the Golden Lion award at 71st Venice International Film Festival, making Andersson the only Swedish director and the second Nordic director to win the award in the history of the festival, after Danish Carl Theodor Dreyer won in 1955.[21]


  • Lyckad nedfrysning av herr Moro (1992)
  • Vår tids rädsla för allvar (1995)
  • Fotografier 1960-2003 (2012)


  1. ^ Interview in Nöjesguiden Archived 2012-07-18 at (in Swedish) Nöjesguiden. Retrieved on 11 February 2009.
  2. ^ "Festival de Cannes: Songs from the Second Floor". Retrieved 2009-10-13.
  3. ^ "Roy Andersson interview Archived 2011-08-09 at the Wayback Machine." Little White Lies. Retrieved on 11 February 2009.
  4. ^ "Figurative & Abstract: An Interview with Roy Andersson." The Auteurs' Notebook. Retrieved 9 August 2009.
  5. ^ "No Shadows to Hide in: A Conversation with Roy Andersson". 12 September 2010.
  6. ^ "It's Hard to Be Human: The Cinema of Roy Andersson". Museum of Arts and Design. Retrieved 5 August 2015.
  7. ^ Rapold, Nicolas (14 May 2015). "Roy Andersson's Movies at the Museum of Arts and Design". The New York Times. Retrieved 5 August 2015.
  8. ^ "About Endlessness review – mesmerising odyssey to the heart of existence". September 10, 2023.
  9. ^ "The "Trivialist Cinema" of Roy Andersson: An Interview". Film Quarterly. Retrieved September 10, 2023.
  10. ^ "Behind The Absurdly Comic Work Of Roy Andersson, And His Movie That Doesn't Look Like Other Movie". Fast Company. Retrieved September 10, 2023.
  11. ^ "Being a Human Person review – the Monty Pythonesque artistry of Roy Andersson". The Guardian. Retrieved September 10, 2023.
  12. ^ "Roy Anderson". British Film Institute. Archived from the original on February 23, 2016. Retrieved June 24, 2021.
  13. ^ "Feature Films: A Swedish Love Story". Retrieved June 24, 2021.
  14. ^ "Feature Films: Giliap". Retrieved June 24, 2021.
  15. ^ "Feature Films: Songs from the Second Floor". Retrieved June 24, 2021.
  16. ^ "Feature Films: You, the Living". Retrieved June 24, 2021.
  17. ^ "Feature Films: A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence". Retrieved June 24, 2021.
  18. ^ Documentary film directed by the film collective Grupp 13 consisting of Roy Andersson, Kalle Boman, Lena Ewert, Sven Fahlén, Staffan Hedqvist, Axel Rudorf-Lohmann, Lennart Malmer, Björn Öberg, Jörgen Persson, Ingela Romare, Inge Roos, Rudi Spee, and Bo Widerberg (Roy Anderesson inleder Den vita sporten article on the site of the Swedish Film Institute).
  19. ^ "Short Films: Something Happened". Retrieved June 24, 2021.
  20. ^ "Short Films: World of Glory". Retrieved June 24, 2021.
  21. ^ "Roy Andersson film scoops Venice Golden Lion award". BBC News. 7 September 2014. Retrieved 7 September 2014.
  22. ^ "The OIFF will award the Swedish director Roy Andersson a Lifetime Achievement Golden Duke and will show his mini-retrospective at the 11th edition of the festival | News". Retrieved 2020-10-01.

External links[edit]