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Göteborg: Swedish Industry Debates New Government Movie Policy

The crucial change is that the government now controls 100% industry regulation, which was formally pacted with the industry

GOTEBORG, Sweden — 40 top national and local politicians and film  executives attended a full-day seminar at the opening of Sweden’s 41st Göteborg Intl. Film Festival focused on new Swedish film legislation, up-and-running from  Jan. 1 2017.

The law is not totally in place. Four commissions are working on it, one for development and production, another for exhibition and distribution, another for film heritage, and a further commission for film education.

The biggest change on paper is that the government now controls 100% industry regulation, which was formally pacted with the industry.

Up for discussion on Friday was the effects of the law till now and what should further be done to further develop it.

According to the new legislation, the Swedish Film Institute must support the development and production of valuable quality films; contribute to the international distribution of Swedish quality films; support the Swedish film heritage; the pedagogical film education of young people; and an open, democratic society with freedom of expression.

Anna Serner, managing director of the Swedish Film Institute, of the Swedish Film Institute, defended the new regulation, and its first results.

“The new legislation has meant an extensive dialogue with the industry, but also some disagreements, because as the institute we have an defined job to do, and when our partners do not consent, they claim we don’t collaborate with them because we don’t do what they say we should,” said Serner who has been running for the last six years.

She added that the new legislation “has also given us freedom to support Swedish cinema the way we think we should to strengthen it, but of course it comes with more responsibility how to spend the budget of SEK 315 million ($39.2 million) for productions, 60% of the total volume, or 35% for features.

“As a result, I receive a lot of views – most of them think I am wrong; but I did not take this job to avoid problems – otherwise I would have certainly chosen another. There is no way I can make everybody happy, so I don’t even try.”

But the defended the results of her work: “Right now, the quality of Swedish cinema is higher than ever before; looking at the last five years, we are up on critics’ prizes, also attendance, selection for top festivals. I also see this as a result of the Institute’s recommending projects from filmmakers because of their relevance, originality and craftsmanship. Serner said started to support more projects by women, who deliver on all three criteria – such as Swedish director Amanda Kernell’s “Sami Blood,” which was in the local Top Ten and won 18 international awards.

“The big change is that the film policy is now 100% decided by and financed by the state. But in reality the objectives, the goals and the money are more or less the same. Als0, even before the Swedish Film Institute had the largest say on the results, even though it had to discuss them with the industry partners of the agreement,” said Tomas Eskilsson, head of strategy at Film i Väst, Sweden’s largest regional film centre.

He added that the problem is that the national system “has too little money for normal features, so too few are produced,” and hopped Sweden would create an incentive scheme to attract international productions las has occurred in Iceland, Norway and Finland. “That will definitely be a game-changer.”

Eskilsson said he would like “more money for feature films productions, and a better balance between arthouse and audience-oriented films.

Producers have came up with attractive features for 14-28-year-old audiences, which also work internationally. But there was little for  grown-up audiences with more complex tastes,” Eskilsson concluded.

“Currently there are not many differences, but I could imagine that in a couple of years we will have a larger distinction between those who have the power of financing and those with the power of production, ie the writers, directors, producers,” explained Swedish producer Charlotta Denmard, chairwoman of drama-film at the Swedish Film&TV Drama Producers assn. since 2000.

“But it is essentially important that the institute collaborates with the private financiers of the 50% of the production which is private; otherwise there will be no work for us,” Denward concluded.

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