GOTEBORG– Swedish producer Tomas Eskilsson has since 1992 headed up Swedish regional film centre, Film Väst, in Trollhättan, one of Europe’s best-know regional film hubs.
He has masterminded the co-production of 450 features; this year he ranks No. 2 on the Göteborg International Film Festival’s list of the most powerful people in the Swedish film industry (No 1 is head of the Swedish Film Institute, Anna Serner).
This comes after one of the most successful year openings he has had. In 2015, Film Väst films won 14 Guldbagga awards – Sweden’s national film prize; one film sold more than 1.6 million domestic tickets, Swedish director Felix Herngren’s “The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared.” It was nominated for an Oscar (Love Larson and Eva von Bahr’s make-up and hairstyling). Recently, another, a film from another Swedish director ,Hannes Holm’s ”A Man Called Ove,” broke through the one-million-admissions mark in Swedish theatres – it is now at 1.5 million admissions – and collected two Guldbagge Awards, one for Best Actor (Rolf Lassgård), the other for Best Film, as voted by audiences.
The Berlin International Film Festival has so far selected seven Film Väst co-productions for the official program, including the world premiere of Swedish director Pernilla August’s “A Serious Game” in the Gala section, and Danish director Thomas Vinterberg’s ”The Commune” and Polish director Tomasz Wasilewski’s “United States of Love” in the main competition. Variety talked to
Still, the second most powerful man in Swedish film?
Now this is no science, but a judgement built on what how a lot of people look at the industry today. And it is true that we have probably used more muscle than many others to say – and show – what we think Swedish films should be. We have not always agreed with others, but probably we have been more visible in the public debate, and fortunately more and more players seem to agree with us.
What was the problem?
We seemed to produce more and more art house films, which had less and less audiences, and at the same time local blockbusters with little quality. But also the art house movies did not really work – Sweden has not had a contender for the Palme d’Or in Cannes since Roy Andersson’s ”Songs from the Second Floor” in 2000.
We wanted to make more audience-friendly art house films, and more high quality crowd-pleasers – like in Denmark, where these titles take up to 100,000-300,000 admissions, and essentially contribute to the local market share; we seem to have been successful, because the trend has obviously changed.
About a year ago, Film Väst made an agreement with Sweden’s Nordisk Film and Swedish pubcaster SVT to invest up to €2.7 million ($2.9 million) per title in a couple of films – either art house films with a large audience potential, or audience-oriented, more commercial productions with a high quality. The theatres need films such as “The 100-Year-Old man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared” or ”A Man Called Ove,” and we will gladly deliver, but we also want them to be ambitious. This is what we think we have achieved in our upcoming line-up.
One of the large local Film Väst co-productions will be Swedish directors Felix and Måns Herngren’s ”The 101-Year-Old Man,” the follow-up on the 2014 best-seller, scripted by Hans Ingmarsson and the two Herngrens, and produced by Mikael Wallén for Sweden’s CFLX and Nice Productions.
Other local films include Gabriela Pichler’s ”Invasion,” from Anna Maria Kantarius-Garagefilm, Johannes Nyholm’s ”The Giant,2 produced by Maria Dahlin at Garagefilm, Ulf Malmros-Jaana Fomin’s ”Escape to the Future,” from Jan Blomgren at Bob Film), Axel Petersén’s ”Under the Pyramid” (Erika Wasserman-Idyll.)
Janus Metz’s ”Borg vs McEnroe” portrays the life of Swedish tennis player Björn Borg – who won his last Wimbledon tournament in 1980, and ended his career in 1983 – in a screenplay by Ronnie Sandahl, produced by Jon Norstedt for Tre Vänner.
10 Most Powerful People in Swedish Film 2016
- Anna Serner, CEO, Swedish Film Institute
- Tomas Eskilsson, CEO, Swedish regional film centre, Film Väst
- Alice Bah Kuhnke, minister for culture and democracy
- Sture Johansson, program director, SF Bio
- Baker Karim, film commissioner, Swedish Film Institute
- Hanna Stjärne, CEO, Swedish pubcaster SVT
- Christian Wikander, programming head SVT Drama
- Yaba Holst, feature film commissioner, Swedish Film Institute
- Jonas Fors, CEO, Swedish production company Tre Vänner
- Magdalena Andersson, Minister of Finance
(Source: GIFF-the Göteborg International Film Festival)