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CANNES 2022 Marché du Film

Anette Novak • CEO, Swedish Film Institute

"Il cinema include tutte le altre forme d'arte, il che lo rende la forma d'arte più speciale di tutte"

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- CANNES 2022: La nuova CEO dell'istituto svedese è approdata alla sua prima edizione del festival con occhi e mente aperti, e alcune domande specifiche in valigia

Anette Novak  • CEO, Swedish Film Institute
(© Erik Dalström)

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Last month, the new CEO of the Swedish Film Institute Anette Novak took over after Anna Serner’s ten years in office and just embarked on her first Cannes Film Festival, with open eyes, a keen mind and some specific questions in her baggage.

Cineuropa: Can you briefly talk about your background and how it has led to this new assignment?
Anette Novak: I’m immediately coming from the Swedish Media Council, where I’ve been CEO, and where Swedish film distributors apply for age limits under 15, so it can be said to relate to cultural politics. Before that I led RISE Interactive, a research institute looking at IT and interaction design, which has visuals, audio design, things that touch upon the world of cinema. I’m a journalist graduate and have led several media companies for over 30 years. So, I’m bringing an understanding of how an industry is affected by the shift into digital solutions, where the news media have come a bit further than the cinema industry right now – they’re already past that problematic phase and have found revenue and business models that work. I think my know-how in this area has been a component when I was approached for this appointment.

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What were your thoughts on being approached here?
When you get to where I am today, with the experience that comes with it, you’ll get approached from time to time for various positions. You will occasionally decline such invitations, pleasant as they may sound, when the answer to the question “Will my baggage of expertise fit the needs of this assignment and this industry at this moment?” is no. If it’s yes, you will instigate a dialogue, discussing who you are, what you bring to the table and what is currently needed as far as mission, challenges and the likes. You also need to match, which isn’t always the case. If so, you may have to turn down the job of your dreams! But this time around, as the dialogue moved forward, I just thought that this is actually a pretty good match.

What’s your own assessment of the film medium?
The strongest of them all. Cinema carries all the other art forms, which makes it the most special art form of them all. Particularly exciting is a young generation without a relationship with the written word, for whom the main language is the image – they’ll rather look something up on YouTube than reading about it. A clip by an opinion-former is vastly more effective than a written editorial, particularly a lengthy one. I find this notion exciting to explore when it comes to cinema. I think it will affect things greatly, I just don’t know how yet, but am keen to find out. I think there will be some change of some kind.

What’s your take on the international arena, not least the Cannes Film Festival, where we are right now? Sweden is doing well this year, with two major productions in competition. Any thoughts on how to maintain this standard?
It’s my first time here. The fact that this festival has kept its convening power on this level for so long is quite unique. The Swedish presence, and the Nordic one, with nine films this year in different sections, is something I’m asked about constantly right now, after six weeks on the job. I doubt I’ll be able to offer a good analysis, ever even. But part of the explanation lies in the solid financial support for independent filmmakers to rely on, in this age of giant commercial corporations with lots of more-of-the-same thinking. While such financing is of course easier to obtain compared to our support model, it comes with strings attached. So, the film institutes as well as the public regional funds have an increasing importance when it comes to securing film production without the straitjackets sometimes implied in a more commercial environment.

Before you came on board, did you have any notion of the activities surrounding the film institute, and Swedish film in general, if any?
Some notions. I did sense the effect of the streaming services on cinema distribution. But far from today, when I’m all in with eyes all open and bringing in a number of specific questions to the table.

Have you brought in a motto to your new assignment?
Not a motto as such, but a main thought is on the importance of developing the individual, on every level. My assignment is external as well as internal. We exist in order to strengthen Swedish cinema.

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