Norway’s Films From the South Fund to Include the Whole of Europe

Producers from Europe can obtain backing for co-productions with developing countries

The Untamed La region salvaje Venice
Courtesy of Venice Film Festival

GOTEBORG, Sweden — Norway’s Films from the South – Oslo’s largest film festival, which has since 1991 presented an annual showcase of 100 features from Asia, Africa and Latin America – is extending its funding scheme beyond Norway to the whole of Europe.

The new initiative called Sørfond Plus, offers an incentive to European producers outside Norway teaming on productions from developing countries.

Between 2012 and 2016, the Films from the South Foundation, through its Sørfond, has fuelled $1.5 million into 33 co-productions between Norwegian producers and filmmakers in so-called Development Assistance Committee regions, or developing markets.

The grants from the Norwegian Foreign and Cultural Ministries have gone to 33 projects, including Spanish director Amat Escalante’s “The Untamed,” which won the Silver Lion for best director at the Venice International Film Festival, and Thai director Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s “Cemetary of Splendor,” which opened in Un Certain Regard at Cannes, and was named best picture at the Asia Pacific Screen Awards.

The extension of the scheme to include the rest of Europe has been possible because of backing from the Creative Europa MEDIA Program, project manager Per Eirik Gilsvik, of Films from the South, announced when he introduced the new fund at Sweden’s 40th Göteborg Film Festival. Films from the South will administer the new scheme in partnership with the Norwegian Film Institute.

“The aim of the new fund is to contribute to the strengthening of film as a cultural expression, to promote diversity and artistic integrity on the international film scene, and to support freedom,“ Gilsvik added.

This year Sørfond+ has $230,000 to spend – a maximum of $53,000 per project; besides a European minority producer, it requires that 70% of the funding is spent in a DAC country.

“We are looking forward to being an active part in this collaboration, because it is part of our strategy for international co-productions, and for the profiling Norwegian cinema abroad,” said head of international relations Dag Asbjørnsen, of the Norwegian Film Institute.

“So far most of our own co-production funding has been invested in productions from other Nordic countries.This initiative enables us to extend the geographical area of our work, and the Norwegian filmmakers’ possibilities of creating new international,” Asbjørnsen concluded, citing the example of a co-production with an Argentine company which could have positive side effects for other corners of the Norwegian film industry. Ambjørnsen has 21 features and 20 documentaries in a new catalog of Norwegian films, which was presented in Göteborg.

The 27th Films from the South Festival will take place in Oslo on November 9-11; the original Sørfond will have about $800,000 for 2017, with about $125,000 for the projects approved after the pitching forum during the festival. Deadline for the Sørfond Plus, valid for all European production companies, is May 4.