Scandinavian cinema has made a big comeback on the world map and it hasn’t gone unnoticed by French sellers. Indeed, most of the buzzed-about titles pitched at the work-in-progress presentation of Goteborg’s Nordic Film Market were being sold by Gallic sales companies, and not the least: Gaumont (Jonas Arnby’s “When Animals Dream”), The Coproduction Office (Ruben Ostlund’s “Tourist”) and Wild Bunch (Mikael Marcimain’s “Gentlemen”).
After having conquered numerous emerging markets, including Latin America, French sales agents have now moved into the Nordics, a territory boasting relatively few high-profile sellers in spite of harboring well-developed and vibrant film industries.
“The difference between Scandinavia and Latin America is that there is a local market,” says The Co-Production Office’s founder Philippe Bober who who was one of the first French-based producer/sales agent to handle Scandinavian films, notably Lars Von Trier’s “Europa” and “Roy Andersson” (“Songs From The Second Floor”).
“In Sweden, for instance, locals go see Swedish films in theaters, which we can also sell worldwide, and there’s a strong TV industry. And although Scandinavian countries have gross national income way above French ones, they made films that cost much less,” Bober added.
Other highlights included Ole Christian Madsen’s 1960’s romance drama “Itsi Bitsi” (repped by The Match Factory), Ronnie Sandahl’s drama “Lonelyland” and Jukka-Pekka Valkeapaa’s coming-of-age project “They Have Escape” (both sold by The Yellow Affair).
Concept-driven comedies or dramedies were also particularly popular, notably Gunnar Vikene’s satire “Here Is Harold,” about a man who kidnaps the founder of Ikea because he’s small furniture shop got bankrupt because of superstore opened next door; Hafsteinn Gunnar Sigurdsson’s “Paris Of The North” and Ole Giaever’s “Out of Nature.”
Rikke Ennis, CEO of TrustNordisk, said “Harold” was one of the project she’d consider picking up. “We liked it a lot because it has a quirky humor a bit like Hans Petter Molland’s ‘In Order of Disappearance,’” said the exec.
Goteborg has proven a good place to search for gems: Violaine Pichon and Pape Boye, the founders of Wild Bunch-backed outfit Versatile, discovered Eskil Vogt’s “Blind” at last year’s work-in-progress and the pic just snatched up a screenwriting prize at Sundance.
With Scandi fare getting increasingly international, Goteborg lured a wide range of fest programmers and film industryites, including Frederic Boyer from Tribeca and Les Arcs film fests, Jerome Paillard from Cannes’ Marche du Film, Pamela Pianezza’s Cannes’ Critics Week, Stephen Locke from Berlin, Elena Pollacchi from Venice, Sylvain Auzou from Venice Days, Yoshi Yatabe’s Venice Days, Jay Jeon from Busan, Sara Norberg from Helsinki, Linde Frohlich from Lubeck’s Nordic Film Days.
Cia Edstrom, the Nordic Film Market’s head, pointed out the huge success of such upscale pics as “A Royal Affair” and “The Girl With a Dragon Tattoo” have fueled the commercial appeal and international potential of Nordic films.
The bulk of the projects pitched at the event already had sales agents, which was a major downside for some participants.
Scheduled in the run up to Berlin’s European Film Market, Goteborg’s NFM has become a convenient spot to build up a buzz on a project and initiate negotiations.
“We’ve already sold ‘Tourist’ in many territories and the movie is nearly completed so our main goal at Goteborg was to spark some positive word-of-mouth and create some anticipation for the film,” said Bober.
Aside from the work-in-progress section, deals are cooking on a few key titles, such as Tarik Saleh’s “Tommy,” Ester Martin Bergsmark’s “Something Must Break” (winner at Rotterdam and Goteborg), Dome Karukoski’s “Heart Of A Lion” and “Blind,” among others.