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"We have a responsibility as safe-keepers, but we also encourage evolution"

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Petri Kemppinen • CEO of the Nordisk Film and TV Fund


- Cineuropa met up with Petri Kemppinen, CEO of the Nordisk Film and TV Fund since 2013, to discuss the current and future challenges for the institution

Petri Kemppinen  • CEO of the Nordisk Film and TV Fund

The Nordisk Film and TV Fund seized the opportunity of the Göteborg International Film Festival to celebrate its 25th anniversary. Since its creation, the institution has demonstrated the success of a model that is unique in the world: a funding body grouping together five different Scandinavian countries, involving TV stations, film funders and political decision makers. Cineuropa met up with Petri Kemppinen, who has been CEO of the Nordisk Film and TV Fund since 2013, to discuss the current and future challenges for the institution.

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Cineuropa: As a rather new CEO, what is your action plan regarding the evolution of the Nordisk Film and TV Fund?
Petri Kemppinen: I'm following two main axes. On one hand, we're aiming at bigger projects that are being funded with bigger amounts, and I’m having a deep look into the distribution potential of the films and the TV series. They need to have international potential and appeal, as we don’t consider projects, even if they're expected to be hits, if the success is purely national. On the other hand, we’re keeping an eye on talents, following their development so that they can keep carrying out and fine-tuning their craft even if distribution is in crisis - and that alone could damage their chances of making films with a steady artistic vision. We have a responsibility as safe-keepers, but we also encourage evolution. A perfect example of this is the newly launched Nordic Genre Boost. This initiative was undertaken to fill the gap between the younger audience and the arthouse and drama audience with whom we’ve established a good connection. We were lacking the audience bond with the young adults, and pushing the genre industry is a step towards that direction.

How do you understand the digital era in terms of distribution, but also considering the success that Scandinavians have had with crowdfunding initiatives (Iron Sky [+see also:
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, for example)?
We’ve launched several initiatives to support distribution, as we need to be proactive on levels such as VoD or day-and-date. We’re not turning our backs on the traditional distribution plans, but we are very keen on supporting all kinds of new or creative ways of releasing titles. It is definitely a plus for us.

What is the division of effort if you had to compare films with TV, considering the established success of Scandinavian TV dramas?
We can’t ignore it. In 2014, 40% of our budget went on TV dramas, and that was more than ever. It’s been growing fast, and this follows the broad domestic audience for those shows and their international sales alike. It has been a nice surprise to realise that a TV series like The Bridge has taken 35% of the market share in the four other Nordic countries. We have to face the fact that this potential has not been fully reached yet by films. TV series are faster at connecting with a broader international audience, but we also expect them to pave the way for a better reception of films in foreign countries. 

Does it still make sense to have a funding body grouping together five countries with such different national markets?
Funding has not got easier over time, so it still makes sense to benefit from a source like the Nordisk Film and TV Fund. It’s true that some producers, especially in Denmark, have been very clever at that and have been successfully using every possibility they have everywhere, but we still do come up with an average of 5% of the budget, so it’s still a substantial amount of money, and it requires hard work to get it. Producers agree that it’s a crucial step for the project to be able to access our funding, and we do believe we still have an important impact. 

The Nordisk Film and TV Fund is not only about funding a project. Can you tell us more about your other activities?
We do organise a certain number of events to promote Nordic cinema or to facilitate networking opportunities like the established Nordic Film Market at Göteborg. We co-finance similar opportunities for documentaries, and also a financing forum for children's content. It’s our goal to partially finance activities that help develop the Nordic film and TV industry, make it grow and showcase it abroad.

Several waves of Nordic filmmakers have been identified since the creation of the Fund, spearheaded by directors such as Suzanne Bier, Aki Kaurismäki and Lars von Trier. Do you think there is a new wave coming now or to be expected in the near future?
I do think that we will have a new wave. Look at a film like My Skinny Sister [+see also:
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, screening in Göteborg’s Nordic competition and impressively directed by first-timer Sanna Lenken - or people like Johannes Nyholm confirming their talent with a film like Giant [+see also:
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coming up this summer. There are new directors who are coming with a bit of a different perspective, dealing with current social issues with a younger generation’s point of view. On the writing side, I’m wondering about what will happen to films in the future now that so many young screenwriters are going straight to TV dramas. I understand that seasoned film directors are also interested in a longer format that can offer so many more possibilities, but we shouldn’t forget traditional films. The new wave will shape their evolution, maybe in a more radical or in a more aesthetic kind of way. Time will tell.



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