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Helmer has idea about Swedish cinema

Featured player: Roy Andersson

STOCKHOLM — As he proved in his Cannes Film Festival Jury Prize winning “Songs From the Second Floor” in 2000, there is contemporary Swedish cinema, and there is Roy Andersson.

A first look at his upcoming production, “You, the Living,” targeted to debut at next year’s Cannes fest, shows Andersson is still everything but a middle-of-the-road Scandinavian director. With two more scenes to be shot, the pic has the same slow pace and tableau aestethics as “Songs,” his comeback film after 25 years’ absence for the feature film biz, but with more humor.

Andersson is an outspoken critic of the shortcomings in state funding for film in Sweden. Some might say the criticism is personal, as he hasn’t found it easy to get his own films financed.

For the $6.4 million drama “You, the Living,” Andersson and producer Pernilla Sandstrom applied for $1.3 million from the Swedish Film Institute. To Andersson’s disappointment, the production was allocated only $726,000. The decision was later reconsidered by the institute’s management, who finally alloted the funds requested.

“I think the Swedish system for state financing is a strange hybrid between the industry and the state. It might have been a successful solution during the Ingmar Bergman era, but it was different then,” Andersson says.

Andersson, who runs his own production company and studio in central Stockholm, mainly financed by his work in advertising, says that today, no Swedish studios are willing to stake money on filmmakers with artistic ambitions, even though production companies rely on state subsidies.

“My features work abroad, and that’s my salvation,” Andersson says. “Swedish films need international financing.”

“Songs” was sold to some 40 countries and this time around, more than a third of the budget for “You, the Living” ($2.2 million) comes from Denmark, Norway, Germany and France. The question is how to make Swedish films more attractive in the international market.

“There is never enough time or money, and the budget always draws a line,” says Andersson, who’s spent five years on “You, the Living.” “We need quality, and that’s attained by patient work.”