In 1965 the 16-year-old Sylvia Ingemarsdotter – then known as Sylvia Ingemarsson – arrived in Stockholm from the province of Värmland in western Sweden to work as a children’s nanny, but before the age of 19 she was working as a film editor. She had moved in with Elisabeth and Sven Fahlén in Sundbyberg, who both worked in the film industry. Sven, who worked at Europa Film as a sound technician, helped Ingemarsdotter to find a job as an assistant editor with Kalle Boman as her mentor. She learned about sound synchronisation at a time when the studio was collaborating with big names in the industry, such as Alf Sjöberg, who was working on The Father (Fadern,1969), Mai Zetterling who was working on The Girls (Flickorna,1968), and Sidney Lumet, who made The Sea Gull in 1968 with an international crew.
The time she spent at Europa Film put her in good stead to be accepted to train as an editor at Sveriges Television, despite the fact that she lacked any formal school qualifications. When she finished at SVT in 1976 she was taken on by Bo Widerberg to edit The Man on the Roof (Mannen på taket, 1976; US title Man on the Roof). That work attracted the attention of Katinka Faragó, who suggested to Ingmar Bergman that she should engage Ingemarsdotter for Autumn Sonata (Höstsonaten, 1978), for which Faragó was head of production. Ingemarsdotter described Bergman as “an amazing teacher” and they went on to work together on all of Bergman’s films apart from From the Life of the Marionettes (Aus dem Leben der Marionetten) which the director filmed in Munich in 1980.
After Autumn Sonata Ingemarsdotter edited Lasse Åberg’s first feature film The Call-up (Repmånad eller Hur man gör pojkar av män, 1979). This led to many further collaborations with Åberg.
Directors with a great variety of styles came to rely on Sylvia Ingemarsdotter. She has remarked that her upbringing was probably to her advantage: her parents ran a guest house popular with forestry and mining workers in Värmland, and she had to help them with a thousand and one different tasks. These experiences served her well in the confined space of the editing room, where she had to deal with people’s different moods and temperaments in her efforts to “keep things simmering away nicely.”
In the mid 1980s Ingemarsdotter was one of the founders of the Swedish Film Editors’ Association. Together with colleagues, her aim was to raise the status of the profession. A national film school had been in existence since 1964, but no training for film editors came into force properly until the 1990s.
Around 2000 Sylvia Ingemarsdotter effectively stopped working as an editor. She moved instead into education, as Professor of Moving Image Production at Dalarna University, and also as a lecturer on the international circuit.
Mårten Blomkvist (2015)
(translated by Derek Jones)
Main profession: Editor
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