Jan Erik Holst • Norwegian Film Institute
Promoting Norwegian talent
by Annika Pham
An established figure in Norway’s film industry since the early 1970s, Jan Erik Holst is responsible for the distribution and marketing of Norwegian films abroad. Busy like never before travelling the world and collecting awards with directors like Sara Johnsen (Kissed by Winter [+see also:
film profile]), Pål Sletaune (Next Door), Jens Lien (The Bothersome Man [+see also:
interview: Jens Lien
interview: Jørgen Storm Rosenberg
film profile]) and Joachim Trier (Reprise) the foreign ambassador talks to Cineuropa about the new wave of Norwegian filmmakers that are taking the world by storm.
Cineuropa: As Norway was triumphantly heading towards Cannes last May with four films in official selection, you said: "To a small country with a limited production – 19 features in 2005 – the strong presence at this year’s Cannes is obviously a happy surprise. But we have seen it coming. The first graduates from the new Norwegian National Film School at Lillehammer have started to put their fingerprints on Norwegian cinema, and they are really ambitious. This is only the beginning." Can you tell us why the Lillehammer Film School is so important?
Jan Erik Holst: Lillehammer Film School is indeed important for the new generation of filmmakers such as Sara Johnsen (Kissed by Winter), Ove Raymond Gyldenås (Tommy’s Inferno) and Erik Richter Strand (Sons) as well as producers such as Christian Fredrik Martin (Friland Film) and Jorgen Storm Rosenberg (Tordenfilm) who graduated from it over the last few years and are now established names. The school’s strength is that it promotes filmmaking as a collective work between directors/scriptwriters/producers and between directors/cinematographers for example, and most graduates who come out of the school continue to collaborate afterwards. The Norwegian Film Institute is keen to help those students develop into Norway’s new wave of filmmakers.
What specific actions do you intend to take to keep the profile of Norwegian film high up on the agenda of international film festival programmers and buyers?
With the Norwegian Ministry of Culture, we plan to have export subsidies for new films, just like what they have in France with Unifrance or in Germany with German Films. Once a film has a sales agent and is being sold, foreign distributors who have bought the film could come to us and we would provide extra support for P&A. We don’t want to give extra money to producers making a first film or to sales agents, but to foreign distributors, definitely yes. The grant would be presented as a soft loan to avoid obstacles from the EU. We hope to have this new scheme in 2007.
We also work hard on our film policy with the Norwegian Film Fund. Our goal over the last five years was to make double the amount of films. In 2001 we had 8 films, now almost 20 (including children films). It’s a good volume. More than that would be difficult because our domestic market could not absorb it.
Norwegian films still have difficulty travelling, let alone in the Nordic countries…
Germany is our N°1 export territory, then comes France, Italy, Spain, Latin America. But there is a big difference between Germany and other territories: 1/3 of our films are sold to Germany, whereas only 2-3 Norwegian films are released in France each year. As for the Nordic countries, our inability to pass the borders has to do with ex colonies. For many years culture from the Scandinavian superpowers Sweden and Denmark has penetrated smaller Nordic countries, and we see quite a few Danish and Swedish films in Norway, but the contrary is still difficult. However television –in particular the cable TV Nordic channel- does offer our films an opportunity to reach audiences throughout Scandinavia.
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