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One of the key figures behind the Norwegian South Film Fund, set up last month to finance films from developing countries, arrived at the Berlinale Friday to tubthump for the org.

The fund, known as Sorfond, is jointly administered by the Norwegian Film Institute and Oslo’s Films From the South Festival whose artistic director, Lasse Skagen, is in Berlin to talk to potential applicants and help them link up with Norwegian co-production partners, as well as meeting similar funding orgs.

Sorfond was launched in co-operation with the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Culture. It has an initial kitty of NOK4 million ($692,000) to distribute this year, with a top limit per project of $178,000. Each project has to have a Norwegian co-producer and 50% of financing in place before an application can be made.

The deadline for applications is Wednesday.

Skagen said that the idea for the fund came out of a conversation at a dinner at the French embassy in Oslo with Haitian director Raoul Peck. He urged the Norwegians to follow the example of other funds targeted at developing nations, like France’s Fonds Sud Cinema.

Skagen says that the demand for coin is evident in the participation in his festival, which caters for films from developing countries. “We had a pitching forum in October at the festival, and had 260 applications, so there is likely to be a great deal of interest in this,” he said. The pitching forum helped put producers from developing countries together with their Norwegian counterparts.

With a commitment from the Norwegian government to continue funding for five years, Skagen said, “We are working on this on a longterm basis, so we will develop new networks and talk to different producers and other funders.”

The objective of the grant is to contribute “to strengthening film as a cultural expression, to promote diversity and artistic integrity on the international film scene, and to strengthening freedom of expression,” according to a statement.

It is also hoped the fund will boost links between the Norwegian and international film industries.

Guidelines and the application form can be found at http://www.sorfond.com.