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Stine Helgeland • Norwegian Film Institute

“There’s a real buzz around Norwegian films these days”


Stine Helgeland • Norwegian Film Institute

Twenty-one domestic films will open in Norway in the first half of this year and a record 40 by the end of 2011. Stine Helgeland, who took on her position as head of Promotion and International Relations for the Norwegian Film Institute (NFI) a year ago, discusses the exceptional local 2011 releases and the changing face of distribution in Norway.

Cineuropa: Why are so many local films opening in 2011?
Stine Helgeland: There is a lot of optimism and talent around right now and that combined with the new NFI retroactive support mechanism is probably what explains it. If a film reaches 10,000 admissions and has ordinary cinema distribution, our support equals 100% of the producer’s net income (up to a certain amount), from all distribution windows. This particular support mechanism is unique to Norway. We are also the first country in the world that will be fully digitalised in April.

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Could you name some of the new Norwegian films we should watch out for?
It is hard for me at the NFI to give my opinion but, obviously, Stian Kristiansen’s I Travel Alone should be quite big. Then you have Ole Giæver’s The Mountain and Anne Sewitsky’s Jørgen + Anne [+see also:
film profile
, both selected for Berlin. I also have high hopes for Pål Sletaune’s Babycall [+see also:
film profile
, which stars Noomi Rapace.

Looking at releases for the next six months, of the big players, SF Norge is releasing five local films, but Sandrew Metronome and Nordisk Film only two each and Scanbox one. The days of big distribution minimum guarantees seem to be disappearing….
Distributors’ roles are changing with digital technology, and their power has [been usurped] by exhibitors, who can choose to screen, for instance, Avatar in reprise or film classics on a Saturday morning, or even football or opera. They programme their films more specifically.

Also, the new NFI support system says that you need a distributor to get marketing support, but it doesn’t say an ‘experienced’ distributor so we see more and more producers who set up their own distribution company to release their own films. I think filmmakers will have to turn to platforms other than cinemas to reach their audiences, but the challenge is of course to get revenues from the new distribution forms.

As a former marketing and acquisitions executive for Sandrew Metronome, you know how crucial it is to create the right materials from day one. Will you work with producers on their films’ marketing strategies?
Yes, that is part of our new strategy. In fact, our marketing support has changed as well. It’s not automatic anymore. When producers and distributors get their production support, we will invite them to a meeting and discuss how we can support their films’ release strategy. The marketing support for national distribution ranges from nothing to NOK 2 million and distributors have to match that amount. Anybody can apply on an equal basis, even minority co-productions. They need only fulfil the requirements of the “cultural test” and get “ordinary distribution”.

On the international level, what are your key objectives to sustaining the current interest in Norwegian films?
We’re going be more focused and work only on the films (documentaries and shorts as well) that we feel have a chance to break out internationally. We will also narrow down the selection of festivals, in close collaboration with sales agents. In terms of territories, our focus this year will be on Germany and Scandinavia, both in terms of production and distribution. We’ll organise networking opportunities for producers and will work harder on the promotion of specific films abroad.

There’s a real buzz around Norwegian films these days. Producers have stressed the growing interest from European sales companies and buyers. We’ll try to sustain this trend by facilitating, for instance, the screening of Norwegian films.

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