Created with Sketch.
Created with Sketch.

The 2011 award ceremony

On Saturday April 9th, 2011 it was once again time for an award ceremony at Varberg Theatre. Filmmaker Maj Wechselmann received her Lenin Award, while journalist and solidarity activist Martin Schibbye was unable to receive the Robespierre Prize, as he was on a working trip in Southeast Asia.

Photo: Yvonne Blank

The band Guldapan, as well as singer Mikael Wiehe, contributed to the award ceremony festivities at the crowded theatre. The audience felt well at home with them: Wiehe, who one day later turned 65 and during forty years of work have played about 4,000 concerts. And Guldapan for their style and repertoire, which befit this contemporary response to Hoola Bandoola Band. Many in the audience, who could have been parents or grandparents of the young musicians, recognized the “Swedish prog music style” of their youth.

Also, on the program at the theatre was a showing of Maj Wechselmann’s latest film, “You decide!”. It was the first public showing at all because no cinema chains have decided to show it. The only time the film had been shown earlier was at a press showing, but no media representatives came to it. The question is then whether Maj Wechselmann, now praised for her disobedience, will be punished for it by boycott in the media? In his speech, Jan Myrdal pointed out that the second-hand meaning in the Swedish Academy’s dictionary for “disobedient” is “who does not show beholden obedience to the authorities or legal order”. Against such a boycott, the 100,000 SEK of the Lenin Award does not suffice.

The film covers civil war, massacres, evictions and starvation that followed in the wake of the international oil companies’ demands for oil exploration in southern Sudan and the Ogaden region of Ethiopia, and accompanying demands on the governments to explore “in safety”. The Swedish corporate group Lundin – in which Carl Bildt has been a member of the Board for several years – is particularly noted among these oil companies. “You decide!” is a continuation of Maj Wechselmann’s previous film about Carl Bildt, “A credible man?”. Possibly the new title may be the answer to the previous one.

When Mikael Wiehe was asked to come to the award ceremony, he first declined. He was going to see his grandchildren. But when he realised what the context was, he made a change of plans. On the stage in Varberg he began with swearing over Lasse Diding, who had introduced him to the audience. The reason was that Lasse Diding had nicked the punch-line that Wiehe intended to use in his own introduction: Of all the writers Wiehe has read, there are five that he has always returned to and with impatience waited for their next book. Of the five, two are Swedes: Jan Myrdal and Sven Lindqvist.

But he had more Myrdal anecdotes in his back pocket and cited the preamble of an Expressen article from August 12th, 1971:

“Hoola Bandoola is the pop band with Jan Myrdal as a role model.
– Though it will probably get to be 1980 before our texts are just as good, leader Mikael Wiehe, 25 laughs.”

In the evening, the festivities continued at Hotell Gästis with dinner, mingling and more music entertainment by outstanding artists from Gothenburg in the shape of Bernt Andersson, Karl-Gunnar Malm, Lucas Stark, Livet Nord and Maria Stellas.