GOTEBORG, Sweden — After 25 years and more than 1,000 co-productions to its credit, Trollhättan-based Film i Väst – Sweden’s largest, and one of Europe’s biggest regional film centres – is in Göteborg for its 41st Film Festival with four new films and a new top management headed by CEO Mikael Fellenius.
Serving as head of productions and artistic director, Peter Possne started in the job on Jan, 1. A veteran in Swedish cinema, he set up producer-distributor Sonet Film in 1984, which he ran for 30 years, producing films of legendary directors Lukas Moodysson and Josef Fares and Kay Pollak’s Oscar-nominated “As It is in Heaven” (2004).
Poster said that Film i Väst founder Tomas Eskildsson asked to take over his work. Having been at the production group for two years, he new the company. “I have both Swedish, Nordic and international networks, so it was just a question of changing cars and go on,” he explained.
At Göteborg Film, i Väst is presenting four co-productions in the Dragon Competition for Best Nordic Film: Swedish director Gabriela Pichler’s “Amateurs,” the festival opener; Norwegian director Iram Haq’s “What Will People Say”; and Danish directors Milad Alami’s “The Charmer,” buzzed up after upbeat reviews and an initial festival run; and Isabella Eklöf’s “Holiday.”
Trollhättan co-productions recently received 11 Swedish national Guldbagge awards, most (five) for Tarik Saleh’s “The Nile Hilton Incident”, but also two for Ruben Östlund’s “The Square”, including best director. 2017’s Cannes Palme d’Or winner “The Square” scooped an Oscar nomination last week for best foreign-language feature.
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“We will still produce the big films that people want to see in the cinemas, but also the surprise films they did not know they wanted to see, until they see them. Also, we want to be more actively involved in projects, not just in the financing,” Possne said.
Film i Väst’s evolving strategy reflects a “radically changed” media landscape, Possne argued. “So now we want to get into our projects earlier; we are spending more money on each; we also want to be more involved in the development,” he added, saying that in the future Film i Väst will “probably focus on five major co-productions a year, high-quality, blockbusters, heading for top festivals.”
After the successful release of Östlund’s “The Square,” Possne is looking forward to Danish director Pernille Fischer Christensen’s “Young Astrid,” based on the early life of famous Swedish author Astrid Lindgren, which has been selected for a Special Gala at the upcoming Berlinale (February 15-15).
Film i Väst is also co-producing Swedish director Tuva Novotny’s “Britt-Marie Was Here”, with Pernilla August in the lead; the SF Studios production is based on a novel by Swedish author Fredrik Backman, whose Oscar-nominated “A Man Named Ove” was filmed by Hannes Holm, going on to sell 1.7 million tickets in Sweden.
Also in the lineup is new take on “The Emigrants,” Swedish director Jan Troell’s five-time Oscar-nominated 1971 movie from Vilhelm Moberg’s novel, now to be directed by Daniel Espinoza and produced by SF Studios’ Fredrik Wikström Nicastro (“Borg McEnroe”) with an international cast aimed at the international markets.
Possne sees Film i Vast as a facilitator, and a company which adds large value to projects: “Besides funding – we can offer $14 million [a year] in total – we are easy to contact, quick to make decisions, vital collaborators, competent, have a huge production knowledge and useful network. If you need a distributor we know him. The trademark of Film i Väst has also been established. If we are in a project, it is O.K.”
He recognizes that Film i Väst faces a “tougher film market with the digital platforms.” But it will adjust, “concentrating on local productions that produce top numbers at the box-office and perform strongly at foreign festivals, and also supporting new talents like Östlund and the new Östlunds,” Possne concluded.