”Karaoke is the best thing that has happened to Finland” was the point made in the humorous pitch that was the last one of this first pitching day at the Nordisk Panorama Forum in Malmö. The presentation had the show element that you are longing listening to 12 projects being pitched. You can’t avoid that some of the 15 minutes presentations become a bit boring and full of klichés, so the Finnish team from Napafilms (Marianne Mäkelä and Einari Paakkanen) gave the day a good ending with ”Mother Karaoke” about a handful of characters, who sing for different reasons. The team entered the room singing, “Stand by Me” of course, that dramaturgical take of the day was perfect.
It was the 26th edition of the Nordisk Forum in Malmö (the festival celebrates
its 30th edition). 24 projects to be pitched in two days with many more invited to one-to-one meetings “outside the plenary”. 26 decision makers at the table, half of them commented on the films, the other half just sat there. The moderating Danes Gitte Hansen and Mikael Opstrup did what they could to create a good relaxed atmosphere, they are (too?) kind and polite to the panelists, and with the 7 minutes there is for the Q&A, it leaves time for 6-7 comments. Of different quality and relevance. That’s how it is in pitching sessions. Has to be said that the very well organised Nordisk Forum organises individual meetings for all pitching teams, where also the non-speakers at the panel and several other broadcasters, sales agents and film consultants present in the room can have a dialogue with the filmmakers. Maybe some critical remarks come up here, that can help the filmmakers to re-think.
Everyone in the plenary is positive with their comments and everybody knows the rules of the game. Even if it’s called a forum for co-financing, the funding process is slow, i.e. contacts are made and eventual contracts come later. Eventual… many of the kind words never get to something concrete. The money is limited. OR contacts have already been made, broadcasters and production teams know each other so it is just a matter of time before a contractual agreement is set up. It is also a Nordic family gathering as a broadcaster said to me.
Also the start of the day was fine. Danish Simon Lereng Wilmont returns to the Eastern part of Ukraine. His presentation was great, both verbal and visual, and the comments were very positive, also because his masterpiece “Distant Barking of Dogs” was well known at the table, not to forget – as Danish Film Institute consultant Cecilia Lidin said – that Wilmont with other films shown has shown his talent for dealing with children. Because this is what “A House Made of Splinters” is about: An orphanage for children in a war zone, taken away from their homes to have a safe place in the Donbass region. Production company Final Cut for Real, producer Monica Hellström. A winning team as someone said.
You have to be careful using the word “artistic” in fora, I have been told, so let me characterise two films as Cinema: Meant for the big screen and/or constructed as a theatrical narrative and/or with a special feeling for the image and sound, film language in other words.
Local director Magnus Gertten and his producer Ove Rishøj Jensen presented “Nelly and Nadine” (photo) that I have written about earlier (http://www.filmkommentaren.dk/blog/blogpost/4478/ “The unique material shows liberated concentration camp survivors coming to Malmø in 1945. One of the prisoners, an Asiatic looking woman, had been in the mind of the director for years, who is she, what is her story. At a screening in France the director was approached – I think I can help you, a viewer said – and what came out of this was an amazing, fascinating story about two women, who fell in love with each other in Ravensbrück. Archive photo from the lives of the two in France was found…”. Excellent presentation, excellent teaser. Looking fwd. to an excellent film.
How do you evaluate the potential of a film from a 7 minutes presentation? I am always asking myself: Is there a cinematic quality in the visuals, does the director convince you with his/her way of talking, do you sense it is important for him or her – and of course has he/she made something valuable in beforehand. Danish Andreas Koefoed is for me a big talent, one of the best in his generation with (the words of his producer Sara Stockmann) “an extremely sensitive eye”. A Filmmaker. His “The Fall” that is in production has been shot over two years. It’s about a young girl in transition as said Cecilia Lidin from the Danish Film Institute, a girl who survived a fall from the fifth floor in her home, when she was five years old. Now she is on her way to adulthood. I loved his “At Home in the World”, “Albert’s Winter”. High expectations for this one, indeed.
“Utøya Survivors”… Norwegian of course, from Fenris Film and Motlys (directors Aslaug Holm and Sigve Endresen) is one of those projects, where you need to take a deep breath after the presentation. It is a film that has to be made and it is in good hands with the two mentioned directors. I have known Endresen since Nordisk Panorama started 30 years ago. You play safe with him. The film follows four young women, survivors, who have taken on their shoulders to fight racism and fascism. Brave strong women!
And the Icelandic “Raise the Bar” with lovely Margret Jónasdóttir, who I have known for at least 20 years – as producer for a film featuring a team of girls who has a tough coach and is about to change basketball in Iceland. Powerful presentation by Jónasdóttir and her director Gudjon Ragnarsson, who showed emotions when talking about the girls and their ambition. And there were clips from parents, who do not “always understand what is going on”… I was thinking about the Polish “Over the Limit”, there is a lot to discuss about pedagogics, when you see the coach in action but… fascinating.
Questions were asked if this film could fit an international audience. Of course good films will travel. Or am I naïve?
Tomorrow 12 more projects from the North. Words, clips, comments from NRK, YLE, DR, ZDF/Arte (Sabine Bubeck), RTS Switzerland (Gaspard Lamunière), the film institutes and Karolina Lidin as the last to comment as the Nordisk Film/TV Fond gives completion funding.