George MacCallum going for Peace. Photos by the author
As you all may be aware, music festivals are becoming a huge part of most cultures worldwide. Every year, festivals celebrate the existence of music by gathering like-minded people and getting fucked up for a few days while listening to music. In Sweden, music festivals are no different. However, there's one festival that's about more than that.
The festival is called Peace & Love and has – as the name suggests – a vision for a better world and a message against violence and discrimination. This vision and the festival organisers’ journey to make it reality is the story of Festival Love Story, British film maker George MacCullum's documentary about the Peace & Love festival.
George's upcoming documentary will be released as part of SVT 's [Swedish Public Service TV] show K Special this autumn. If their Kickstarter campaign gets enough funding that is.
It’s quite weird that Sweden’s biggest music festival hasn’t had a documentary made about it yet considering its story. Peace & Love takes place in Borlänge, a small town in Sweden's Dalarna. “The town was known for being a crime city, and the festival managed to half the criminal activity in the city,” explains George MacCallum. “Peace & Love put Borlänge on the map. Before, the city was just something you passed by when you were going further up north – it was just a pit stop.”
Since the first festival in 1999, Peace & Love quickly grew to become the biggest music festival in Sweden. The success fuelled the organisers’ ambition to better the world. The Peace & Love crew started festivals in deprived areas in both Chile and Cuba. “They thought that the success story they had in Borlänge could be translated in other parts of the world,” says George and continues, “that’s an amazing idea, but it will be problems when you try to implement ideas like that.”
The organisers were music loving visionaries with an eye for gathering people to work for them, which worked like clockwork for a while. However, Peace & Love grew into a money making machine with a huge organisation. “The growth of the organisation and the amount of money that was coming in, mixed with their ambition to expand with their side projects was unsustainable. It just folded because it wasn’t well thought out.”
In the summer of 2013 following two years of horrible ticket sales, Peace & Love filed for bankruptcy. George, who was living in Borlänge at the time, says that “it felt like someone died in town.” But one hour after they had announced bankruptcy fifteen Facebook groups emerged all from Borlänge. The Facebook groups’ sole purpose was to revive the festival. The groups went together and formed Kärleksveckan [Swedish for the Love Week] to support Peace & Love's work as well as organising a festival in honour of Peace & Love. Kärleksveckan worked and their good will formed the basis of the Peace & Love Festival 2.0.
“The story for me is that Peace & Love saved Borlänge and then Borlänge saved Peace & Love,” says George. “The people of Borlänge saw that the world can be better. Also, that being with your mates listening to live music for a week is probably the best thing you will do all year. So why not do the best thing you can do all year and make the world better at the same time. That is Peace & Love, and that should be a template for all festivals.”
George wants to fund the documentary in the same spirit as Peace & Love’s vision. “You know, doing Kickstarter felt very Peace & Love. It felt like it was the way Peace & Love started; they gathered a crowd and everyone helped out everyone, they chipped in, and they made it happen."
Support Festival Love Story via their Kickstarter campaign.
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