måndag, december 11, 2006

Swedish film is going to become GREAT again. Really?

From a meeting the other day at the Swedish Film Institute I heard that they are planning to make Swedish film great again. This is however not a new 'concept' and we have heard it many times before.

One of the means to make this happen is to produce fewer films and instead try to back film manuscrpts regarded being qualitatively good.
Who is going to make up the rules for what is regarded to be a film with a high qualitative standard?
This is of course not something being done after unbiased criterions following some kind of 'objectivity'. Other concerns can become much more important.

In a small country like Sweden everything you do or try to do is very much dependant on connections between people in different areas ('nepotism'). It's most often a case of who you know and how well you know a certain, 'important' person.
This is of course something we can see in all countries but in a small country I have the feeling that nepotism and similar behavioral patterns are more common.

Hopefully the policy of the Swedish Filminstitute can lead film makers - directors and producers - to realize more grandious dreams, ideas and projects, at least better than a majority of films we have seen the last ten-fifteen years.

Recently we heard about one project during 2007 and that is to make one or more feature films built on the books about 'Arn', a Swedish medieval knight.
These books are very popular in Sweden and they are written by Jan Guillou, author and journalist (better as journalist than as writer) and one of our most successful writers today.
We now talk about the amount of books sold on the market both within and outside Sweden. Guillou has also written about the Swedish agent 'Hamilton', books also adapted for the screen, with actors like Stellan Skarsgård and Peter Stormare among others.
The feature film 'Ondskan' was also based on the book with the same name written by Guillou.
I am not going to discuss the litterary qualities of his works, because they are not impressive, not even within the genre (detective stories, 'historical' novels and the like) but only establish that the movie about Arn is probably the most costly film project ever in Sweden, with a budget amounting to more than 200 million Skr (22 million € or 29 million US$).

This amount of money could of course have been used to produce quite a good number of high quality films but the Swedish Filminstitute and other financiers knows that they most probably will get their invested money back and also make a profit.
How do one know this? Inductive reasoning.
Almost all the films made on the basis of the books by Guillou has proven to bee a win-win affair.
If these money will help producing a high quality film or if this project could be said being interesting from a merely cinephile perspective is of course impossible to comment on at this stage.

I would like to see some courage from the Filminstitute and other investors, leading them to produce films by experimenting film makers, those who try to push boundaries within this The Seventh Art.

If we look at the Swedish director Lukas Moodysson, his most succesful films from a commercial viewpoint - 'Fucking Åmål', 'Together' and 'Lilja 4-ever' - are not his most interesting films from a cinephile perspective.
It's more the experimental films 'Ett hål i mitt hjärta' ('A Hole in my Heart') and 'Container' that really awake our interest in him as a director on a deeper level.
'Lilja 4-ever' is of course a socially relevant story and in that sense a touching movie but it's not particularly original. 'Container' is.

I would also like to see more subsidies partly to film makers partly to support the owners of cinemas in our country, enabling them to lower their admission fees.
100 Skr (more than 10 euro) for a ticket to 'Casino Royale' is to much, even though many people will attend this film anyway, in spite the price.

More important is of course if one could reduce ticket prices for films not falling into the category 'blockbusters'.

An effort to equalize the money spent on promoting films would also be a help.
The American distributors of films spend many million Skr on promoting 'their' films in Sweden and these films are also displayed at a greater number of cinemas in Sweden than an average Swedish film.

This also affects those people who import films from more 'peripheral' film countries who do not have the resources introducing them on a wide scale but only in the major cities.

Much more than this can be done but it also depends on if our politicians and decision makers are able to understand the importance of maintaining the heritage through different cultural expressions of which film is one very important dito!

(Foto 'Körkarlen' kopierat från: http://img.gkblogger.com/blog/imgdb/000/000/357/180_2.jpg)
(Photo 'Container' taken from: http://www.cinecultist.com/containerposter.jpg)

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