Maria Ekerhovd • Mer Film
by Jorn Rossing Jensen
- Maria Ekerhovd, who scooped Norway’s so far only Golden Palm for Bobbie Peers’ short Sniffer, has recently opened her own production outfit, Mer Film.
Norwegian producer Maria Ekerhovd, who scooped Norway’s so far only Golden Palm for Bobbie Peers’ short Sniffer (2006), has recently opened her own production outfit, Mer Film, with offices in regional Bergen and Tromsø. A media production major from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim, Ekerhovd’s feature credits include Pål Jackmann’s The Storm in My Heart (2009) and Gunnar Vikenes’ Vegas (2010).
Cineuropa: More films? This year, there are 42 Norwegian premieres – isn’t that enough?
Maria Ekerhovd: You have a good point – but quantity doesn’t guarantee quality. The change to the public-support system – now all films qualify if they sell more than 10,000 tickets – has triggered an unusual large number of productions, not all of the same high standards. We may not need more films, but we need more diversity and more venture capital for artistic projects. This is where Mer Film comes in. We want to make films that are different, that stand out, and which are rooted in other regions than the capital of Oslo. We want to contribute to raisingmore money for films other than state support. We have offices in theprovince, and projects in Rogaland and Trøndelag – this summer we have actually shot a film in Oslo, so it is not because we don’t like the city, we just want to work in other environments, too.
How is your collaboration with Peers, and how has the Grand Prix in Cannes helped?
Bobbie and I have made three shorts together, and worked on developing features for several years. He is a great talent and collaborator, generous and sensitive, while at the same time having his ownoriginal artistic vision. The Golden Palm has been important in our efforts to finance his first feature, not that it has been a free pass – after all it has taken five years. While we were progressing with a project titled Underneath, Norwegian scriptwriter Bjørn Olaf Johannnesen wasattached as a consultant; he showed Peers a screenplay, DIRK OHM, which Peers immediately fell for – it is also perfect for him – so Underneath was postponed, and now we are preparing to shoot DIRK OHM next year in Trøndelag.
More films by other directors in the making?
Norwegian director Ole Giæver, whose The Mountain was internationally launched in the Panorama section of this year’s Berlinale, will make Norway’s first science-fiction movie, a chamber play in outer space, where some of Norway’s top actors will be exposed to extreme pressure.
Otherwise I am working with Norwegian actress-turned-director Iram Haq, whose latest short, Little Miss Eyeflap, have won several prizes; Haq, of Pakistani origin, is developing a very personal and extremely strong portrait of a woman for her next film. I have also a couple of projects in development with Vikene whom I worked with on Vegas.
Mer Film’s line-up is wide-ranging in genre and style, but our productions are all from original stories with strong concepts, realized by directors who know how to lift them and add their own edge – local voices with an international potential, crossing both artistic and geographical borders. Our ambition is to come up with films that audiences will remember.
Why the current international success of Norwegian cinema?
Norwegian filmmakers have the best conditions for making good films, and they work with a high degree of professionalism. However, with more self-confidence and a greater willingness to take risks, the profit could be even bigger.