Mikael Fellenius, Goteborg’s newly appointed CEO, was just a teenager when the popular festival hosted in the western Swedish seaboard city launched in 1978.
A classically trained percussionist, Fellenius, 49, had a career as a professional musician, playing with the Goteburg Symphony Orchestra before getting an MBA and switching to finance, marketing and management of cultural ventures.
With a masters from Goteborg U. in fine arts as well as another from Cincinnati U.’s College-Conservatory of Music, Fellenius brings with him a broad base of financial and cultural experience.
Fellenius, who took over from Asa Bernio, who left in September after 17 years to helm the business management of the Goteborg Book Fair, is planning to beef up sponsorship and widen local business participation in the festival, but says the artistic concept will remain the same.
“This edition will run as normal, but from next year we plan a new vision, where we will expand the value and commercial side of the festival without losing site of the core concept of high-quality film and strong audience participation,” Fellenius says.
That concept has proved a winning one: an international festival with a strong focus on Scandinavian and Nordic film.
With a public audience that averages 130,000 and one of the world’s biggest prize purses — the Dragon Award for Nordic Film, worth more than $140,000 — Goteborg, which this year will screen about 450 films from 70 countries — is a major player in the local economy.
Fellenius plans to take better advantage of that with year-round activities that would include local business in the region’s cultural calendar.
“Our partners hold us in high esteem because we have a well organized brand,” he says. “We are secure about what we do, we bring in important and high quality film, and that is something partners want be associated with.”
He also intends to improve cash flow by encouraging year-round promotional and partnership projects, boost the fest’s digital and on-demand services and develop more media sales.
“A lot of companies would like to be seen with the festival. We can offer opportunities for that both during the 11 days of the festival and the rest of the year,” Fellenius says.
It’s a vision that’s likely to find a business audience in a city once best known for its industry and fishing port — and that is now developing a significant presence in film and culture.
CONTENDERS FOR NORDIC FILM AWARD
“Sons of Norway”
Director: Jens Lien
Director: Axel Petersen
Director: Mads Matthiesen
“Stars Upon Us”
Director: Saara Cantell
“She Mail Snails”
Director: Ester Martin Bergsmark
Director: Hafstein Gunnar Sigurdsson
Director: Patrik Eklund
“The Orheim Company”
Director: Arild Andresen
A ‘dragon’ with
a top fest too| Big prize, diverse program pull in bizzers | Arab spring in Sweden | Post and vfx thrive in northern climes