Country Focus: Sweden
Swedish government terminates film contract – after 50 years
by Jorn Rossing Jensen
- The Swedish film policy, which has since 1963 been based on an agreement between the state, the film and TV industries, and various federations, will become solely government business when the current contract expires at the end of 2016.
In an article published by Sweden’s DN on 8 May, Swedish Minister of Culture and Democracy Alice Bah Kuhnke gave notice of the termination, saying the government will take full responsibility for a film policy that will make public support more “technology-neutral, long term and quality-orientated”.
The Swedish state currently injects an annual €33 million (SEK 300 million) into the film industry, which – excluding broadcasters – is estimated to produce a €1.5 billion (SEK 15 billion) turnover, with approximately 5,000 full-time and 10,000 part-time employees.
But the industry is in crisis, mainly due to the new digital streaming services, which have reduced DVD sales by more than 50% in the last five years. “If we do not do something, Swedish film’s local public and international success will become nostalgic images of a bygone era,” Bah Kuhnke argued.
The turnover from DVDs has gone down from €172,000 (SEK 1.6 billion) to €58,600 (SEK 544 million), and the income from digital services has not come close to compensating for this: today, 80% of all Swedish films are accompanied by a financial loss.
“To secure sustainability and innovation in Swedish film, the government is today announcing the biggest change to Swedish film policy for more than 50 years,” the Culture Minister concluded. The government will publish its film budget in the autumn and details of the new legislation “before the end of the year”.
When the first film agreement – the brainchild of Swedish film critic and politician Harry Schein – was signed, the Swedish Film Institute (SFI) was founded to manage the new system, and Schein became its first CEO. “This is an historic change – we look forward to seeing how the institute’s mission will be formulated,” said SFI head Anna Serner.