Nordisk Film & TV Fond CEO Petri Kemppinen to Step Down

Petri Kemppinen, CEO of the Nordisk Film & TV Fond, one of the region’s major film-TV financiers, will step down on Oct. 31.

His departure – for personal reasons to spend more time with his family in Helsinki – ends a near six-year mandate which has seen the ahead-of-the-curve Finnish executive react quickly to or anticipate market trends. New or strengthened initiatives delivered a effective diagnosis of major forces forging the new content landscape.

Established in 1990, and handling a NOK 97.75 million ($11.4 million) budget for  2019, the NFTVF is backed by the Nordic Council of Ministers, the five Nordic film institutes and 12 Nordic television channels.

Its primary brief is to boost high-quality film and TV productions in Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden, by providing top-up financing for feature films, TV-fiction, series and creative documentaries. Just how that is achieved has evolved under Petri, who was not afraid to change the Fund’s guidelines twice since taking up his position in November 2013. In 2016, the Fond determined, for example, to invest more in big Nordic “blockbusters” with cross over potential, resulting in fewer projects but more money in each project. The following year, it made distribution support more flexible and platform-neutral. In other words,  producers could tap funding for films release on any distribution platform, instead of requiring theatrical release first.

In 2017, Kemppinen launched a Nordic Genre Boost, putting up development money, a Nordic Distribution Boost to aid distributors and producers of middle-sized movies, the Goteborg Fest’s Nordisk Film & TV Fond Prize for best screenplays, and raised support for documentaries (up 10%) and drama series,  which now receives almost equal support to film. The NFTVF allocated its biggest grant ever – NOK 5 million ($583,000) to NRK high-end series “Atlantic Crossing,” co-financed and distributed by Beta Film, featured in next weekend’s MipTV Buyers Summit.

Under Kemppinen, the Nordic Distribution Boost has flourished as a mainstay of distribution, Nordic Talents has become a platform and showcase for new Nordic creators, and the Nordisk Film & TV Fond’s twice-weekly newsletter has consolidated as the major source of reference for Nordic film and TV news, its readership more than doubling.

A Nordic Genre Boost ran for three years. Its rationale – to reach out to younger audiences – remains rightly a major concern for the future where funding has been secured for the next five years.  Kemppinen leaves NFTVF in good shape. One instance: For the last two editions, the Nordics and Latin America have together supplied at least half of Sundance’s highly select World Cinema Dramatic Competition.

“It’s been particularly thrilling to witness the sustained craving for Nordic drama around the world and emerging Nordic talents breaking through, not forgetting one success aspect: the hugely increased readership of our great news service,” said Kemppinen.

“Petri can be praised for the Fund’s good results,” added Stine Helgeland, chairwoman of the board of director, who called  him “knowledgeable, reactive and insightful.” She added: “He has clearly managed to stay a little ahead of industry developments and, together with his employees, he has initiated measures that have responded to industry needs.”

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