Stockholm: Swedish Industry Discusses Future of Local Film

Perhaps the most attention-grabbing seminar at the Stockholm festival’s Industry Days was about future of Swedish film, held Nov. 18.

The panel included Peter Fornstam, CEO of Svenska Bio; Charlotta Denward, producer Avanti Films; Kristina Borjesson, acting head of production and development at the Swedish Film Institute; Charlotte Nilsson, Deputy director general, Ministry of Culture; Jakob Abrahamsson, CEO of Nonstop Entertainment; and Tomas Eskilsson, CEO Film Vast.

While many panelists bemoaned the lack of so called “middle films” in Sweden, noting that there’s either small films that play well at international festivals but very poorly at the local box office, or commercial projects made with a  lack of ambition, Abrahamsson mentioned a few successful exceptions, such as Ruben Ostlund’s ”Force Majeure,” Anna Odell’s “The Reunion” and Nonstop’s own “Ingrid Bergman — In Her Own Words,” by Stig Bjorkman, which all played well at the local box office.

”We cannot only produce films like ’The 100-Year-Old Man’ and ’Waltz for Monica,’ ” said Abrahamsson, singling out two local crowd-pleasing hits .

Today the market share of Swedish films at the local box office is only 15%, among the lowest since the early 1990s.

Tomas Eskilsson, CEO Film Vast, talked about winning back market shares by combining quality and the striving for a large audience, and he also saw several ambitious projects coming up recently.

“Every year we need to engage in a couple of really big national flagships which mustn’t come on expense of the smaller films. Take ’The Wave.’ It had great reviews in Norway, was seen by 850,000, and screened in one of the most prestigious Toronto sections. We could easily make these films in Sweden too, because we’re at least as talented.

“We must open up Swedish film internationally. 2016 doesn’t look so good, but 2017 will be,” said Eskilsson.

Distributors, exhibitors and producers once again derided the VAT rate on cinema tickets, which in 2017 will be raised from 6% to 25%. Also, at that time, cinema will then no longer be seen as an art form, like theater, opera, dance, etc, which may lead to producers and distributors having an even smaller slice any state subsidies for the arts.

During the Cannes festival in May, the Swedish government, under cultural minister Alice Bah-Kuhnke, announced the decision to scrap, as of 2017, the long-lived, but obsolete, film agreement. Instead, the government will institute a state film policy and set up goals, with the Swedish Film Institute shepherding the new policy. The government is expected to unveil details about the new policy in the spring.

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