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The Arctic Indigenous Film Fund is launched


- Aiming to support indigenous filmmakers and to facilitate co-productions in the Arctic region, the fund’s other goals include building a sustainable film industry and educating emerging talents

The Arctic Indigenous Film Fund is launched
The launch of the Arctic Indigenous Film Fund, with fund partners Pipaluk K Jørgensen, Valerie Creighton, Sardana Savvina, Anne Lajla Utsi, Huw Eirug and Liisa Holmberg (© Ulannaq Ingeman)

The Arctic Indigenous Film Fund (AIFF), which aims to promote high-quality Arctic indigenous film projects and co‑productions, was officially launched on 8 March during the Indigenous Film Conference at the Sámi University of Applied Sciences in Kautokeino, Norway. The AIFF will support emerging Arctic indigenous film talents, and promote films that focus on climate, the environment, indigenous land rights and indigenous knowledge. US filmmaker David Lynch was among the 130 international participants who welcomed the initiative.

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Behind the launch of the AIFF is the International Sámi Film Institute (ISFI) in Norway, which has in the past introduced two pilot projects aiming to attract partners from the Circumpolar Arctic; through these, five indigenous short films were produced. The AIFF has appealed to partners from the whole region, and apart from the ISFI, which represents Sámi people living mainly in the Sápmi region (Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia), Canada is participating with the Canada Media Fund and the Nunavut Film Development Corporation, Greenland with Greenland Film Makers - FILM.GL, Russia with the Archy Film Association in Yakutia, while Alaska will join later this year with another organisation.

The AIFF is aiming to become a sustainable fund for emerging indigenous filmmakers, and intends to provide support at all stages of development, even including parts of film education – hence it is likely to become a viable resource for Arctic filmmakers. Its ultimate goal is to build up a film industry in the Arctic region, and the AIFF will soon receive financial support from the Norwegian government. The three-year projection of the AIFF’s expenses shows an increase starting from NOK 52.5 million (€5.5 million) in 2019 and expected to reach NOK 210 million (€22 million) by 2021; it is worth noting that 95% of these amounts will be used for AIFF’s investments and support for film productions.

Another crucial strategic goal for the AIFF is to encourage collaboration among the countries of the Arctic region. Given the unique cultural importance of the region thanks to the diverse backgrounds of its indigenous populations, the fund estimates that there is significant financial potential for indigenous films or high-quality TV productions reaching the market. With this in mind, the AIFF will become a platform that will connect local filmmakers with producers, companies, film institutions and universities, and help them to collaborate. By facilitating this cultural and financial exchange, there is a possibility for the indigenous communities to create new business models that will enhance audiovisual production in more remote Arctic areas.

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