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Vietnam in transmission: Documentary film and solidarity programming in Swedish broadcasting culture (1967–72)

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A case study of the Swedish and transnational context of film, media activism and public broadcasting culture in the late 1960s and early 1970s, this article suggests a reassessment of the ‘solidarity film’ as a TV genre in the era of the Vietnam War. In 1969-70, in the two public channels of Swedish Television, the anti-war narrative would typically appear as a compilation of activist footage in obvious sympathy with the Vietnamese National Liberation Front, or as the reporter’s first-person impressions of everyday life and the traces of war in North Vietnamese villages. The activist material of the former and the subjective perspective of the latter provoked a heated media debate in Sweden, where journalists contested the simplistic and na├»ve feature of ‘documentary’ narratives, where activists deplored the cautious position of public TV producers, and where programme material was frequently criticized as either politically biased or visually offensive to the TV audience. Images of protest and a Swedish production history of ‘solidarity programming’ illuminate the paradoxical interrelations between the Vietnam movement and the negotiation of radical content in public television, particularly during the years 1967-72.
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Keywords: Swedish TV history; Vietnam movement; documentary; early public broadcasting culture; media witnessing; radical cinema; solidarity film

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Stockholm University

Publication date: 2017-03-01

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  • The Journal of Scandinavian Cinema is a new scholarly journal devoted to film in the Scandinavian countries. It aims to become the prime site for excellent research and engaging discussions on cinema in Scandinavia, both within the national context of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden, and as a region existing in a globalized world.
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