Emmy-nominated Film about Delaware’s Kalmar Nyckel Celebrates International Premier

Several Delawareans recently traveled to Sweden to celebrate the international premiere of a new Emmy-nominated documentary about Delaware’s Tall Ship: Kalmar Nyckel: The Forgotten Journey.

Members of the Kalmar Nyckel Foundation staff, plus captains Lauren Morgens and Sharon Dounce as well as the film’s Executive Producer Sam Heed, hosted a private party and screening at the Vasa Museum in Stockholm in January for Swedish diplomats, historians and educators.

The audience for the film’s debut gave glowing reviews to the team from Delaware who produced the film and coordinated its release. “Bringing the Kalmar Nyckel story to international audiences, starting with our roots in Sweden, has been a huge accomplishment for our Foundation and the legacy of our Tall Ship,” said Cathy Parsells, the Foundation’s executive director.


Co-produced by Glass Entertainment Group, the documentary premiered on Swedish Television (SVT), Sweden’s public television service, attracting 313,000 viewers on the first airing. The Kalmar Nyckel Foundation is working on plans to share the documentary with other worldwide audiences and hopes U.S. audiences will have their chance sometime soon. “We produced it specifically to share this exciting piece of history with people across the U.S. and abroad,” said Parsells. “It was years in the making and we are very proud of it!”

Parsells added that the sponsorship by DigiPlex, a Swedish data storage enterprise, helped make the premiere possible.

The film chronicles the epic 1638 voyage of the original Kalmar Nyckel that launched the colony of New Sweden in the Delaware Valley.  The show has been trending as the Number 1 documentary on demand in Sweden.  

Kalmar Nyckel

L to r: Gabriella Augustsson of Ministry for Foreign Affairs; Scott Johnson, KNF Trustee; American Chamber of Commerce in Sweden Peter Dahlen (formerly of Hockessin); Jacob Dornbos; Hélène Dahlen; and Per Augustsson

Filmed on location and on the full-scale replica of Kalmar Nyckel with its captains and volunteer crew as re-enactors, the documentary depicts the first Swedish voyage to the New World – a significant part of U.S. and Swedish colonial history. In 1638, the Swedish Crown chose to compete with North American rival Dutch and English powers by sending Kalmar Nyckel across the harsh Atlantic in pursuit of trading relationships and unclaimed territory. The film features stunning sailing sequences from Kalmar Nyckel and commentary from some of the world’s leading experts on North American and Swedish maritime and colonial history.

Executive Producer and KNF Senior Historian Sam Heed says the film sheds new light on America’s colonial history. “It helps to explain that America’s founding experiences were not as simple and straightforward as we often make them out to be,” he said.  “The film reminds us that the Atlantic Ocean was really the ‘first frontier’ of America’s colonial history – a vast and dangerous wilderness that shaped all of America’s formative colonial experiences.”

Heed says the film also takes a close look at Sweden’s exploits in North America as the New Sweden Colony established the first permanent European settlement in the Delaware Valley. “America’s colonial history was more mixed, multi-ethnic, and multi-national than we remember.”

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