Josef Kullengård on the experience and impact of the 25th Nordic Film Market, during Gothenburg Film Festival.
A record 507 market accredited on site attendees from 33 countries are heading to Gothenburg for this year’s 25th Nordic Film Market (January 31th - February 2nd). These include 90 buyers, 50 festival programmers, 50 sales agents, as well many producers and directors from the Nordic countries and beyond - and a strong smattering of representatives from film funds and institutes.
There are 58 titles in the market line-up altogether, including Works in Progress, Films in Development, Market Screenings, Nordic Documentaries, Case Studies, and Talent to Watch showcases.
“The Nordic Film Market is the primary international space for Nordic films,” Head of Industry Josef Kullengård says about an event he describes as “a boutique size experience but at the same time one with great impact.”
NFM brings together the powerbrokers and the most creative voices in the Nordic region, but also attracts leading international distributors and festival programmers. Representatives from the Cannes Festival, Canneseries, São Paulo International Film Festival, Karlovy Vary, Venice and beyond will all be in attendance, as will top distributors and sales agents, among them Beta Cinema, Playtime, Pluto, Match Factory, M-Appeal, Madman Entertainment and Le Pacte.
“It’s many of our usual suspects, but the ones you really want to meet,” Kullengård says of the industry heavyweights who’ll be congregating at the Hotel Draken, the venue he describes as the “new beating heart of the festival”.
As the Nordic Film Market celebrates its 25th anniversary, organisers are promising some changes. The emphasis now is as much on projects in development as on completed films and series.
“In a way, we are taking a new leap with the Nordic film market this year. We have been a strong distribution market for many years. This year will be the start of becoming an even stronger platform for development projects,” Kullengård states.
The event starts with a discussion between Cannes boss Thierry Fremaux and Triangle of Sadness director Ruben Östlund. Kullengård expects them to discuss the post-pandemic “cinematic landscape and the future of festivals, hopefully with an audience dimension”.
Those scouting for new projects will find rich pickings. The selection includes the latest films from both newcomers and established directors.
“I am very excited to share this year’s Works in Progress line-up. It’s the essence of what we want to present at the Nordic Film Market, which is a strong mix between debutants and some of the finest names from the Nordics,” Kullengård states.
Among the experienced figures, legendary Finnish documentary and fiction director Pirjo Honkasalo presents a work in progress screening of her new project, Orenda, while Norwegian master Hans Petter Moland has his new Knut Hamsun project Growth Of The Soil (Markens grøde) in development, and Oscar-nominated Swede Mikael Håfström will be screening his new feature, the period epic Stockholm Bloodbath (Stockholms blodbad).
Work comes in many different guises. “The selection this year really reflects what we want to come out of the Nordic cinema, which is a variety of genres, creators, tonalities…and we always try to have a broad Nordic representation in terms of countries.”|
27 of the 58 titles have female directors.
In Works in Progress, Magnus von Horn is presenting his 1918-set serial killer drama The Girl With The Needle, starring Trine Dyrholm, while John Skoog will be in town with his post-war set Redoubt (produced by Platform Produktion’s Erik Hemmendorff and Caroline Drab). A spin-off from his Gothenburg winning short of the same name, this film is about a farm labourer who builds himself a fortress. Meanwhile, Frida Kempff’s The Swedish Torpedo tells the story of the doughty Scandinavian woman who swam the English Channel in the 1930s.
Alongside these historical pieces are several contemporary social realist projects, among them Maria Ericsson Hecht’s gritty drama Kevlar Soul (Kevlarsjäl) and Halfdan Ullmann Tøndel’s Armand, about a young boy accused of assaulting a classmate.
In Talents to Watch, four films in production from emerging filmmakers and backed by the Swedish Film Institute will be presented to market attendees.
One new initiative is the “Case Studies” programme. This includes a focus on the intriguing new Tambo Film hybrid fiction-documentary project About A Hero (sold by DR Sales and directed by Piotr Winiewicz). The film’s script was “written” by an AI-generated version of legendary German filmmaker Werner Herzog.
Meanwhile, there will also be a discussion of “pioneering sustainability in Nordic cinema”, which will focus on the eco-friendly filmmaking approaches behind two new projects: Kevlar Soul (Kevlarsjäl) (which is also in the Works in Progress section), and Kari Vidø’s Paranoia.
Kullengård explains the thinking behind the new Case Studies section: “There is a need to illustrate the discussions about Artificial Intelligence and sustainability with practical examples.”