Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus onboard for Mamma Mia! sequel

News recently surfaced of a sequel to the movie smash Mamma Mia!. And yes, ABBA’s Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus have given the project their seal of approval and will also serve as executive producers.

The sequel Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again will be set once more on the Greek island of Kalokairi, and reunites the producers from the original film, Judy Craymer (who created and produced the stage show) and Gary Goetzman.

Ol Parker

New this time around is Ol Parker, who has written the new movie and will also direct.

Ol is best known for The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2015), The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2011) and Now Is Good (2012).

The new Universal Pictures movie will feature ABBA songs that weren’t included in the first film and also reprises some of the most popular.

Mamma Mia! The Movie, which was released in 2008, was a huge worldwide hit, making $609.8M in global box office sales. Until this year’s Beauty And The Beast, Mamma Mia! was the biggest grossing live-action musical ever.

The original cast, including Meryl Streep, Julie Walters, Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth, Amanda Seyfried and Dominic Cooper are all expected to return for the second outing of the musical.

The news of the new movie has divided ABBA fans, much like the original stage show and movie did. One thing that no-one can deny is how phenomenally successful those two showcases of ABBA’s music went on to become.

Look out for much more news about the new film which is set to hit the silver screen in July 2018, ten years after the original was released.

‘ABBA – The Complete Recording Sessions’ Sneak Peak!

‘Writing The Tunes’ is an essay from the eagerly awaited, revised and expanded book  ‘ABBA – The Complete Recording Sessions’ by ABBA historian and acclaimed author Carl Magnus Palm. It is a fascinating account of the roles and responsibilities that Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus take on during the songwriting process. Here is an exclusive sneak peak…

Carl Magnus Palm
Carl Magnus Palm – Photo:

The start of a songwriting period was always the hardest for the team: getting over the initial threshold. “After we release an album we don’t write for two or three months,” Björn explained at one point, “so when we start again it’s really hard and nothing helps but hard work.” The discipline of working day after day, hour after hour, Monday through Friday during office hours, was crucial for these particular writers; it was their method for getting the creative juices flowing. Björn was very firm about it in a 1982 interview. “There is nothing bohemian about [writing songs]. It’s a job that requires good character and discipline, like every other profession. That thing about writing when inspiration hits you, and usually in the middle of the night: both Benny and I quickly realised that it’s just a myth.” Like most songwriters, then, Andersson and Ulvaeus had concluded that if they would just wait for “inspiration”, they would never get any work done: the magic feeling of being possessed by something of an almost spiritual nature would emerge only through the work itself. “Inspiration comes at the exact moment when you hear that you’re on to something that’s good,” as Benny once phrased it.

So what would happen during these songwriting sessions? It was quite a simple set-up: Benny would be at the piano, or whatever keyboard instrument was handy, with Björn sitting beside him, armed with an acoustic or electric guitar. Then they’d start playing chords, humming ideas for melodies, throwing riffs and fragments of songs at each other, grabbing hold of the other person’s idea and take it to the next level. “All of a sudden,” Benny explained in a 1974 interview, “one of us will sing something that turns you on and then you play that thing, trying to develop it.”

The melody lines they’d be working on didn’t necessarily originate during the songwriting session: they would bring ideas to the room where they both were sitting, but those ideas would more often than not have emerged when they were alone. Rarely, however, would those melodies pop up while they were out walking or shopping, or were simply busy doing nothing; it was when actively playing music that the ideas would come. “You don’t write a good song in an hour,” explained Benny many years later. “You need to have two months [of] trying out ideas, before writing the good song in that hour. … If you don’t sit there and if you don’t work on it really hard, trying to achieve something and trying to make something good, it’s not going to happen. It’s not going to happen sitting in the car, thinking, ‘Oh I have this good idea’, nothing like that. I have to sit at a piano or a keyboard and play through the rubbish, and get rid of that, and sometimes things will pop out and I can say, ‘This is good.’”

As many have witnessed and he himself admits, Benny always found it hard to resist playing a piano wherever there was one available and it was through sitting at the keyboards hour after hour, just playing away, that all the music he’d ever heard in his life, combined with his own tastes, temperament, inclinations and feelings, would suddenly result in brand new melody lines travelling from his brain and out to his fingers. “I actually think that this is what ‘composing’ is really about, that the music has to exist before you play it,” he says today. “It’s not about sitting there improvising, as it were, it’s about sitting at the piano and wait for this thing that already exists to arrive. You want to watch your hands play something that you haven’t heard before, but which really is structured, in some way. And that takes time – usually you have to wait a very long time.”

Coming up with melody lines that felt right, that were worth developing, was a completely intuitive process. “I don’t know what it is that makes you choose like you do,” Benny says. “If I’m playing for four hours straight, trying to arrive at something that might be used for something, which I believe that I’ve invented, then I can’t really say why this melody line or these four bars in particular are what I decide to keep instead of all the other ideas that have come up. I just don’t know. The only thing I can say is that it feels right.”

What Björn and Benny would be doing once they got together, was to piece all those ideas together into a coherent song. “We don’t really adhere to any principle when we write songs; we just play around,” said Björn in a 1977 interview. “We both look for something and we both know when we find it and that’s an incredible feeling, the best kick you can get.” Rarely would they try to write a specific kind of tune: whatever came up during the writing, that they liked, they would go with. “Of course,” Benny admitted at the time, “if we’ve written eight songs for an album and we need two more, and all those eight songs are ballads, you don’t aim for writing two more ballads. But they may turn out to be anyway.”

If they were lucky, the process of coming up with a cohesive tune could in itself be relatively quick. The normal course of events, however, was that it took a lot of time, since their quest for the strongest possible melody ensured that at least 90 percent of their ideas for melody lines and song fragments would be discarded. “Sometimes it takes you a week and there is no song at all – or two weeks,” Benny explained in a 1980 interview, “and sometimes it takes four hours and there is almost a complete song there”.

They would be ruthless against themselves: just a catchy chorus wasn’t enough, they wanted the entire song to be solid, in all its parts, from start to finish, “never leaving a song until we feel it’s the best thing we’ve done,” as they once put it. But there wasn’t a fixed pattern as to the order in which the song would be put together: for example, they didn’t necessarily start with the chorus and then build the rest of the song around it. Says Benny, “You start at one end, with whatever you’ve come up with – four bars, or eight, or just a phrase you like – and then you use that as the starting point. And that could be any part of the song.”

Although Benny has always been, in Björn’s vernacular, “the musical motor” in the Andersson/Ulvaeus partnership, supplying most of the ideas for their songs, this does not mean that Björn never contributed anything. By the time his and Benny’s collaboration truly kicked off, towards the end of the 1960s, Björn had already proved himself as a tunesmith, having had a dozen of his songs recorded, several of which were strong, catchy tunes. Clearly, such an ambitious songwriter wouldn’t just sit and wait for Benny to come up with ideas. It is true, however, that as the nature of their collaboration evolved, Björn would take on the role of “editor” of the ideas that flowed from his colleague, essentially being Benny’s sparring partner. Parallel with this development, his interest in lyric-writing grew, and today’s Andersson/Ulvaeus songs are strictly music by the former, lyrics by the latter.

While Benny remembers several melody lines for ABBA songs coming to him, today Björn can’t remember any specific parts of tunes that he himself contributed. “Benny provided most of the music even in the early days,” he admits, “but it’s awfully difficult to say exactly where things start and end during the songwriting process.” And, as Benny points out, the Andersson/Ulvaeus partnership has never been about that type of issue. “It’s an interesting question, to pinpoint who does what in a song. It might be that one of us brings along a song that is complete: both of us feel that it’s complete, so that’s what it is. But let’s say that the song is complete, and then one of us says, ‘Wait a minute, what if we do it like this at that point in the song?’ and then we both agree, ‘Yeah, that’s really great!’ Who has written the song then? Is it the work of one person or of two persons? In other words, if we agree on a thing together, then both of us have been equally involved. In that respect there’s a tremendous difference between being alone and being together.”

ABBA - The Complete Recording Sessions cover
ABBA – The Complete Recording Sessions

The book ABBA – The Complete Recording Sessions by Carl Magnus Palm is a must for every ABBA fan. Pre-order your copy at

ABBA and Simon Fuller create cutting-edge digital experience!

ABBA returns! World’s favorite pop act teaming up with Simon Fuller to launch new digital experience!
ABBA returns…the world’s favorite pop act teams up with Simon Fuller to launch new digital experience.

All four members of ABBA, entertainment entrepreneur Simon Fuller, and Universal Music are partnering together in a groundbreaking venture that will utilise the very latest in digital and virtual reality technology.

Fuller came to prominence through managing pop group the Spice Girls.

He went on to create the Idol franchise and has managed the careers of some of entertainment and sports biggest stars, including Victoria and David Beckham, Annie Lennox and Lewis Hamilton.

In 2008, he was certified as the most successful British music manager of all time by Billboard magazine and even has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

The aim of the link up between Fuller and the ABBA members is to create an original entertainment experience, which will enable a new generation of fans to see, hear, and feel ABBA in a way previously unimagined.

Simon Fuller has been quietly invested in virtual reality technologies, developing hyper-realistic digital humans in the field of entertainment, for several years.

Anni-Frid Lyngstad

About the project, Frida said: “Our fans around the world are always asking us to reform and so I hope this new ABBA creation will excite them as much as it excites me!”

The collaboration with ABBA will fully realise the possibilities of virtual reality ‘ahead of the curve’ – and in the process hopes to transform the face of popular entertainment.


The members of ABBA will be involved throughout the creative process maintaining the authenticity and integrity of the band’s original vision within this exciting new realm of possibilities.

Simon Fuller
Simon Fuller

Simon Fuller: “Having seen over the past few months the creativity and ideas flowing from the members of ABBA, it fills me with great excitement.

“This new technological world we are exploring, with Virtual Reality and Artificial Intelligence at the forefront, allows us to create entertainment and new content in ways that could never previously have been imagined.”

Sir Lucian Grainge, Chairman and CEO of Universal Music Group said: “I’m thrilled to be involved in this innovative new project that will introduce the band who are responsible for some of the greatest songs and melodies in pop music to a new generation of fans.”

A press release to herald the new project states: Nearly 35 years after their last public performance together, the members of ABBA are preparing to give their fans around the world what millions of them have long dreamed of but considered impossible: A new entertainment experience.

Benny Andersson
Benny Andersson

Benny said: “We’re inspired by the limitless possibilities of what the future holds and are loving being a part of creating something new and dramatic here.”

icethesite hopes to be able to share a few more details of this exciting and pioneering collaboration, with the full backing of Agnetha, Frida, Benny and Björn, soon – but the full details of the project and where and when you can see it will be announced in 2017.

Mamma Mia! The Party premieres in Stockholm

When ‘Nikos Taverna’ opened its doors for the Mamma Mia! The Party premiere in Stockholm, the four former ABBA members, Agnetha Fältskog, Benny Andersson, Björn Ulvaeus and Anni-Frid (Frida) Lyngstad, were all there to help kick off the event.

ABBA reunited at Mamma Mia! The Party in Stockholm

The evening got underway at 6pm, it was dark and minus 7 degrees outside but that didn’t stop ABBA fans from lining the pavement in the hope of seeing members of the Swedish supergroup arrive. Nearby, inside a specially erected (and heated!) marquee, the equally excited press jostled for space alongside the deep blue ‘Red Carpet’.

The first to arrive was Frida, accompanied by her long-term partner Henry Smith. Benny and his wife Mona followed shortly behind them. A rumour circulated that Agnetha had slipped in through another door, but at just after 7pm, she too made her entrance along the carpet. Björn’s arrival with wife Lena completed the set.

(L-R) Benny, Frida, Björn and Agnetha on the red carpet on the way into the event.

All four spent time posing for photos and answering questions from the waiting journalists before making their way into Gröna Lund’s recently converted Tyrol restaurant.

The premiere was also attended by Benny Andersson’s sons Peter and Ludvig, Björn and Agnetha’s son Christian and Björn’s daughters Emma and Anna. The star studded guest list included Görel Hanser, Micke B Tretow, Tommy Körberg, Helen Sjöholm, Gunilla Backman, Judy Cramer, Catherine Johnson, Matthias Hansson, Ingemarie Halling, Björn Borg, Alcazar

… and a handful of lucky fans.

Upon entering ‘Nikos’, the invited guests were greeted by Greek Gods bearing trays of Ouzo shots, before being shown to their tables.

Inside, the temperature was that of a Greek summer evening. Vines trailed the crumbling walls, fountains danced and the air was heavy with the scent of olive trees and jasmine. As the evening progressed, the light gradually faded as the sun went down and candles began to flicker.

A three course Mediterranean style meal, consisting of bread, dips, salads, platters of grilled meat and fish, potatoes and roasted vegetables, rounded off with a yoghurt and honey pannacotta was served to the tables.

While the guests enjoyed their food, the show took place around them. There is no stage, instead, the talented and vocally strong cast (led by Sisse Eriksson from the original Swedish production of Mamma Mia!), delivered their dialogue, sang and danced between the tables on the restaurant floor.

The actors often engaged with the guests and encouraged audience interaction. From the first bar of the first song everyone was singing and clapping along…Agnetha and Frida included! Sitting together on a table to one side of the room, the pair could clearly be seen holding hands and singing the harmonies to the ABBA tracks that they made famous.

Benny and Björn sat at neighbouring tables surrounded by family and close friends.

The show was split into three acts to allow for the service of food and drinks, but there was never a dull moment. During the breaks, the audience was entertained by performers in Cirque du Soleil style.

“As the four of us are here, Agnetha and I think we should do something” – Frida

Towards the end of the final act, ‘ABBA’ suddenly rose from their chairs, pushed their way through the crowded room and stepped up on to a small, raised, dance platform. The premiere audience went wild with whoops of delight and disbelief as the four stood together on stage smiling and waving at them.

Afterwards, Benny told icethesite that the, already iconic, moment had not been planned.

“It was entirely impromptu,” he said. “And it was the girls’ idea! Frida came over to me during the show and said: “As the four of us are here, Agnetha and I think we should do something”. I said “Yeah, why not, so we spoke to Björn and that is how it happened”.

Following the performance, tables were cleared and the restaurant transformed into a nightclub. Agnetha, Benny, Björn and Frida watched on from a first floor balcony as guests partied below.

Although the songs in Mamma Mia! The Party are all sung in English, the dialogue during Mamma Mia! The Party is currently only performed in Swedish. However, Björn has said that he is working on an English script translation and that he hopes to have an English language version of the show ready by Spring, in time for many international visitors to Stockholm for Eurovision 2016.

If the Stockholm production is a success, Mamma Mia! The Party may roll out to other cities around the world.

There’s more…

Björn Ulvaeus unveils ‘Mamma Mia! The Party’

Mamma Mia! has been seen by more than 55 million people around the world and translated into 16 different languages. Now, Björn Ulvaeus has unveiled plans to open a Mamma Mia! themed, interactive restaurant, on the Stockholm island of Djurgården.

Björn with a model of Nicos' Taverna - Photo:Claudio Bresciani
Björn with a model of ‘Nicos’ Taverna’  –  Photo: Claudio Bresciani

Mamma Mia! The Party, is scheduled to open at Restaurant Tyrol in Gröna Lund, Stockholm’s famous amusement park, just across the road from ABBA The Museum in January 2016. The existing restaurant, which opened in 1933, is to be completely rebuilt to resemble a Greek Taverna with a seating capacity for up to 450 guests.

At a press conference earlier this week, Björn spoke about the idea behind the venture:

“I have sat in theatres around the world ever since Mamma Mia! first opened and experienced that happy atmosphere in the audience when people stand up in the aisles and dance and sing.

“This is the next extension of that: transfer the mood to a restaurant, a Greek restaurant of course, and have a huge party.

“My vision is that this restaurant will be like a Mamma Mia! bubble, where people can just have a bloody good time. I can see the audience in front of me, how they’re laughing and singing along and having loads of fun. I want to re-create the same party spirit that the musical is known for,” Björn said.

“As soon as they walk through the doors, fans will be transported to the surroundings of an authentic Greek taverna, complete with olive trees, fountains, the scent of rosemary and a warm breeze from the Mediterranean Sea.

“It will be part restaurant, part stage show and part role play. Guests will be able to listen to music, eat Greek food, watch and take part in the show. They will be able to become the stars of their own personal version of Mamma Mia!,” he explained.

The stage will be set in a small restaurant, owned by a man called Nikos and his slightly younger Swedish wife, on the Greek island of Skopelos, where Mamma Mia! The Movie was filmed.

However, although the Greek island setting remains unchanged the plot will not follow the precise storyline of the stage show or movie. Instead, it will be semi-improvised from night to night, based on interactions with the audience.

And Björn promises that there will be plenty of room for improvisation and audience participation, but of course, only if the guests are up for it.

“If for example, I was to sit in the audience, the actors would see that ‘this one’, he doesn’t want to participate, but ‘that other guy’, he wants to get up and dance. People should feel safe,” he said.

“The song lyrics will be in English and the actors will use a mix of English and Swedish dialogue depending on the audience. If it’s mostly an international audience it will be in English, because Swedes speak such good English anyway,” he said.

Mamma Mia! The Party, is at this stage very much an experiment, but, if the project is successful, Björn sees no reason why it couldn’t also work in other cities around the world.

“If we can find the right place in London, Hamburg or wherever, then maybe eventually there will be a ‘Nicos’ Taverna’ there too,” he said. “It could turn into a very big party indeed!”.

Mamma Mia! The Party will premiere in Stockholm on 20 January 2016.

Tickets go on sale on 25 August 2015.

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‘ABBA – The Complete Recording Sessions’ to be updated, revised and expanded

Renowned ABBA historian Carl Magnus Palm has announced plans to publish an updated, revised and expanded edition of his very first ABBA book, ABBA – The Complete Recording Sessions.

The new edition is scheduled for release in 2016
The new edition is scheduled for release in 2016

Originally published in the autumn of 1994, in tandem with the Thank You For The Music box set, the groundbreaking book was the first to take a serious look at the group’s music. It included interviews with all four ABBA members, as well as the key people who worked with them in the recording studio and featured a foreword written by Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus.

The revised version will incorporate new information that has come to light since the book was first issued along with previously unpublished or long-forgotten facts and stories that Palm has unearthed during his ongoing research into ABBA and their music.

More pertinently, Benny, Björn and Polar Music International have authorised him to listen, to more unreleased music than was available in the early 1990s.

“Back then everything was analogue, whereas today, all the tapes have been transferred to a digital format, allowing for much easier access to the unreleased recordings and alternate mixes of ABBA’s classic hits,” Palm explained.

The inclusion of the new material together with relevant illustrations means that the revised edition of ABBA – The Complete Recording Sessions will end up being close to 400 pages long compared to the 128 pages of the original version.

Carl Magnus Palm
Carl Magnus Palm

“I’m basically re-writing the book from the ground up,” Palm said.

However, this time he has decided to publish the book himself and hopes to finance the project with the aid of a month-long crowd-funding campaign, scheduled to start on 28 January 2015.

“I have chosen to self-publish in order to maintain control. I do not want to be beholden to a publisher’s requirements regarding design, deadlines and so on. I hope to be able to release it towards the end of 2016, but the date may change because I want the book to be the best I can possibly make it – that is my priority. In other words, I want to make a book for the committed reader, rather than the casual browser,” he said.

On Sunday 11 January 2015, Carl Magnus Palm will be interviewed about the forthcoming publication by UK’s Radio Verulam and on Saturday 7 February he will talk about the project at an event in London organised by the Facebook group ABBAtalk.

Got a question for Carl Magnus Palm?

If you have your own question that you would like to pose to Carl Magnus Palm, now is your opportunity…

Simply submit your question to icethesite via e-mail before midnight GMT on 26 January 2015 and we will forward them all to Carl Magnus who will answer what he considers to be the best five. The selected questions and answers will be published here on icethesite.

Good luck!

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Björn pledges ABBA’s long-term support of UNICEF to the United Nations General Assembly

On Thursday 20 November, Björn Ulvaeus attended a live music gala held at the United Nations General Assembly in New York, to mark the 25th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child – the most widely ratified legal agreement to protect children’s rights.

Björn and Laleh at the UN General Assembly in New York
Björn and Laleh at the UN General Assembly in New York

During the high profile event, which included a performance by Yoko Ono and the launch of UNICEF’s ‘IMAGINE Project’, one of Sweden’s most popular young artists, Laleh, gave a unique rendition of ABBA’s Chiquitita. Joining her on stage afterwards, Björn made an impassioned speech, pledging ABBA’s long-term support to UNICEF (United Nations Childrens Fund) projects that specifically support the education, health and empowerment of girls.

In his speech, Björn explained that the collaboration between ABBA and UNICEF had begun 35 years ago, when in January 1979 ABBA performed Chiquitita at the ‘Music for UNICEF’ concert and donated 50% of the song’s royalties to UNICEF. He said that as a result, Chiquitita had so far raised almost $4 million for children’s education and vaccination projects worldwide.

Björn went on to say that when he originally wrote the lyrics to Chiquitita, he had imagined a young girl who had broken up with her boyfriend, being comforted by her best friend. But said that now the song had been in the service of UNICEF for so long he felt as though it had taken on new meaning:

'Chiquitita' has raised almost $4m since 1979
‘Chiquitita’ has raised almost $4m since 1979

“It’s as though the words are sung to all those sad, sad girls out there around the world today, who are suppressed one way or another and denied their rightful place in society. It’s as though the words say, “You deserve better. You deserve a chance. We want to help you. We want to give you education so that you can gain independence and stand up to those dark reactionary forces that want to tie you down. We want to empower you.” Björn said.

“When we do that, not only are we helping them, but I think it is perhaps, the single most important thing we can do to make the world a more peaceful place,” he continued.

“So that is why, from now on and into the future, 100% of the royalties to Chiquitita will go to help towards the promotion of rights for girls. Chiquitita means ‘little girl’ and we must never abandon the little girls,” Björn concluded.

You can watch a video of the full gala. Björn and Laleh’s appearance is at approximately 11 minutes.

Earlier in the week, ABBA The Museum and UNICEF Sweden unveiled a number of joint initiatives in support of the fundraising campaign, which they hope will help Chiquitita reach out to a new, younger audience.

Mattias Hansson, CEO of ABBA The Museum explained one of the projects:

“ABBA built the Polar Studio in Stockholm in 1978 and the first song to be recorded there was Chiquitita. Parts of that studio have now been reconstructed at the museum with many of the original objects and instruments from the time. Each year, until 2019 when the song celebrates its 40th anniversary, we will invite well-known artists to record their own versions of Chiquitita in the museum’s Polar Studio. All the royalties from these new versions of the song will also go to UNICEF,” he said.

The first to take up the challenge and record her interpretation of the ABBA ballad, as performed in New York, was Laleh.

Agnetha Fältskog said she had enjoyed listening to Laleh’s recording: “In her own personal way, the very talented Laleh has given us a completely new Chiquitita, in a voice that expresses so many nuances – happiness, sorrow and everything in between. It is a fantastically imaginative arrangement that just draws you in,” she said.

It is hoped 'Chiquitita' will reach a new global audience
It is hoped ‘Chiquitita’ will reach a new global audience

Another collaboration is the ‘Press Play To Give’ initiative which makes it easy to donate to UNICEF by simply playing Chiquitita on Spotify, iTunes or YouTube.

“Our aim is to make donating easy, while spreading the word about children’s rights. We encourage more people to listen and donate by pressing play,” said Véronique Lönnerblad, Executive Director of UNICEF Sweden.

To help bring ‘Press Play To Give’ to life, a new permanent side-exhibition about Chiquitita, through which visitors can donate, has been installed at ABBA The Museum.

“As a visitor, you can choose to sing Chiquitita in one of the song booths or watch the music video. Every time you choose Chiquitita at the museum you will be contributing to UNICEF,” explained Mattias Hansson.

“Our hope is that donating via music will become a natural part of everyday altruism all over the world,” he said.

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Benny at The Gothenburg Book Fair’s ‘Cirkeln’ seminar

Post-production work on RMV Film’s adaptation of the bestselling Swedish fantasy novel Cirkeln (The Circle) is nearing completion. Last weekend, Benny and Ludvig Andersson together with the movie’s director Levan Akin, producer Cecillia Mardell and Cirkeln’s authors Sara B Elfgren and Mats Strandberg, participated in a seminar about the project at Scandinavia’s largest literary festival, The Gothenburg Book Fair.

The 45 minute session, listed in the fair’s programme as, The work continues – When a book becomes a film, was led by Radio Sweden’s Lisa Bergström.

During the discussion Levan Akin said that he had initially been attracted to the novel by the girl’s stories rather than the magic and witchcraft. Benny agreed with him: “I think Cirkeln has strong roots in reality,” he said.

The 'Cirkeln' production team on stage at The Gothenburg Book Fair
The ‘Cirkeln’ production team on stage at The Gothenburg Book Fair

Now that the editing process is over and the film’s final cut ‘locked down’, Benny can start recording the soundtrack, but he said that composing the music had proved to be an exceptionally difficult task, as it was the first time in a long while that he had not had free reign to write whatever he wanted. There were times when Levan said, “That is great, but maybe you could do it a little more like this…” Benny recalled.

Sara B Elfgren who co-wrote the screenplay with Levan Akin, spoke of how they had started out with very different ideas for the script, but said that the two versions had gradually knitted together as the project progressed, continually changing and evolving even in the editing room.

She went on to say that although some of the book’s storylines had been altered, for example they have completely written out one of the novel’s central characters, school caretaker Nicolaus, she felt that the movie had remained true to the most important aspects, the girls and their relationships.

“Nicolaus is a significant character in the book, but when you make a film you have to be economical and we wanted to give the girls this space,” Sara explained.

Mats Strandberg agreed: “It’s about how to best tell the story in a way that works on film,” he said. “I am so incredibly impressed at how Sara and Levan have reached smart solutions to effective storytelling,” he praised.

“By moving, removing or adding scenes here or there, you can raise the finished picture by yet another notch, “ Mats explained.

Both Sara and Mats are very happy and proud of how the finished film has turned out. “It has been an incredibly exciting process and I see this as having been the world’s most luxurious course in filmmaking,” Mats said. ”Plus it’s fantastic to see a fantasy film where you do not get angry over sexist jokes!” he added.

Sara said that she believes Cirkeln represents something completely new within the genre of fantasy movies.

Book 2 of the 'Englesfors Trilogy'
Book 2 of the ‘Englesfors Trilogy’

So far, only a  30 second teaser-trailer has been released to the public, however, during the seminar another short clip of the film was unveiled, exclusively, to the book fair’s visitors.

“It was fun to see the first audience response to the film,” Mats said afterwards. “Now I can’t wait to see it when the special effects and music have been added and I am really looking forward to 18 February when the movie premieres!“

Cirkeln, the first book in the Englesfors Trilogy, is classified as teenage fantasy fiction and although the team hope that the Swedish Board of Film Censors will consider the movie suitable for viewing by anyone age eleven or over, Benny thinks that the film will appeal to all generations.

“It is not only aimed at young people but also at people of my age,” he said. “If Cirkeln is well received at the box-office, RMV Film will go on to produce the second and third books, Eld (Fire) and Nyckeln (The Key), too,” Benny confirmed.

The Cirkeln seminar was not the only ABBA related event at this year’s book fair. Ingmarie Halling, curator of ABBA The Museum and co-author of ABBA The Backstage Stories also took the stage at Gothenburg’s Swedish Conference and Congress Centre alongside Jan Gradvall and Bengt Wanselius, creators of ABBA The Official Photobook, for a discussion about the group’s image and the secret of the their success. You can  watch a video of ABBA – The Seminar in Swedish.

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