I am old enough to remember what life was like before the pandemic. When I was having most of my meals outside my apartment, was at the office several days a week, hugged friends and family members, and went to the cinemas regularly. But since March 2020 there has been little of that. Even so, on a personal level things have not been that bad for me, health-wise and professionally. 2020, ironically, was one of the healthiest years I have had for many years, which I suppose is partly because I avoided crowds, and because I began eating healthier and began going for long walks every day. I switched my whole life almost from one day to another in the second week of March, and it did me a lot of good. Professionally too, as I have been reading, writing, and researching to an extent I had not planned, and I have managed to finally complete several projects that had been ongoing for many years (such as those related to W.S. Van Dyke, Henry Hathaway, Henry King, and Jean Negulesco) and I have published some pieces of writing that I had been wanting to do for some time. So 2020 was a healthy, efficient and productive year, even though it came with the emotional stress from the onslaught of bad news from around the world, and from being physically distant from my partner most of the year, as she lives in another country.
I managed to watch eight films in the cinema, seven in January and February, and then Tenet (Christopher Nolan 2020) in the summer. The last week in February I squeezed in three visits to the cinema, Alice and the Mayor (Nicolas Pariser 2019), Happy Birthday (Cédric Kahn 2019) and Emma. (Autumn de Wilde 2020), and then the pandemic hit. Of those, Alice and the Mayor was, as I have written about here before, the best. I enjoyed Tenet too. All other new films I have seen at home, which to me is less appealing than going to the cinema. The best of these was The Two Popes (Fernando Meirelles 2019), on Netflix, where I also saw a number of incredibly bad films. But not too much should be read into the fact that The Two Popes was my favourite new film since I saw few new films. This is partly because I was focused on my other projects, which means watching a lot of films from the 1930s and 1940s, and partly because I have always felt less inclined to watch new films when they are not in the cinema. But I want to make up for that now, and since Christmas I have been catching up, at home, of the Swedish releases of 2020. I have now seen more new Swedish films in ten days than I would normally do in one year. I shall continue with international releases in the coming week. There is much I am curious about, not least the Brazilian film Bacurau (Kleber Mendonça Filho and Juliano Dornelles 2019).
In terms of writing, my five most read pieces here on the blog were the following, in chronological order:
On my concerns with the way film history is taught: https://fredrikonfilm.blogspot.com/2020/04/some-basic-problems-in-taught-film.html
My thoughts on Andrew Sarris: https://fredrikonfilm.blogspot.com/2020/05/andrew-sarris-and-american-cinema.html
My thoughts on film and philosophy: https://fredrikonfilm.blogspot.com/2020/06/film-and-philosophy.html
A celebration of The Intern (Nancy Meyers 2015): https://fredrikonfilm.blogspot.com/2020/08/the-intern-2015.html
And a discussion about the term "auteur" and why I do not use it anymore: https://fredrikonfilm.blogspot.com/2020/11/discarding-term.html
I have also written several articles in Swedish, both print-only and online. For example, I wrote an article about Swedish films that deal with the Cold War in one way or another (here) and I also participated in a project with some colleagues about films that were shot simultaneously in Swedish and foreign languages in the 1930s and 1940s (here), and those were fun to make.
Beyond that, the board of the Swedish Film Academy, where I am a member as well as the secretary, has been highly active. We switched from an analogue existence to a digital one, and it went surprisingly smooth and easy. I think we have had more meetings than any of the previous years I have been a member, and it has been a lot of fun.
We shall see what else I come up with for 2021. The blog, the Film Academy, and all else continues, and I have some new projects I am ready to begin with. I hope you will follow me through 2021 as well!