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FkN Newsletter

June 2011

FkN News

Nordisk Panorama Registration Open
If you haven't done so already, now is the time to mark your calendar for the 22nd edition of Nordisk Panorama Event, 23-28 September 2011.

Nordisk Panorama Event gathers the Nordic short and documentary community for a 5-day feast comprising of industry events such as Nordisk Panorama Market and Nordisk Forum for Co-financing of Nordic Documentaries together with quality films, seminars, workshops, and great parties.

Nordisk Panorama Event continues its nomadic journey throughout the Nordic landscape, this year to Aarhus. Denmark's second largest city is beautifully situated in Eastern Jutland and combines vibrant city life and beautiful nature.

The registration for Nordisk Panorama - 5 Cities Film Festival is open, so go to Nordisk Panorama's website allready today, get the early bird discount and join this prominent community of international and Nordic short and documentary representatives.

Nordisk Forum Project Update
The deadline for submissions to Nordisk Forum for co-financing of Documentaries has come and gone.

For the 18th Nordisk Forum for Co-Financing of Documentaries we have received 84 applications from producers applying to pitch and/or to be observer+. The projects have been submitted by producers from the Nordic and Baltic countries: 15 from Denmark, 4 from Estonia, 13 from Finland, 7 from Iceland, 1 from Latvia, 23 from Norway, and 21 from Sweden. The selected projects will be presented in the next FkN Newsletter.

Deadline for accreditation to Nordisk Forum is 1 August.

The 18th Nordisk Forum takes place in Aarhus, Denmark 25-27 September in conjunction with Nordisk Panorama - 5 Cities Film Festival.

German Speaking Delegation at Nordisk Forum  
This year, Nordisk Forum welcomes a small delegation of German speaking producers from Switzerland, Austria and Germany. The aim is to facilitate connections outside the Nordic countries.

The German speaking producers will particpate in the event Producers Meet Producers, where they will outline their production landscape and present themselves. The German speaking delegation will be invited to apply for pitching and meetings on the same terms as their Nordic colleagues. However, a maximum of 2 foreign delegation projects can be selected for picthing.

Furthermore we will welcome a number of German speaking commissioning editors and sales agents to the pitching and meeting tables.

The German speaking delegation has been arranged in co-operation with Visions du Réel, Susanne Guggenberger and DOK Leipzig, Christine Hille.

Summertime at Filmkontakt Nord
The FkN office is closed 18-24 July. We wish you all a great summer!

New Nordic and International Initiatives

Icelandic Films Online   
Good news from Iceland: A new private initiative called Icelandic Cinema Online offers streaming of Icelandic shorts and documentary films.
A beta-version of the website was launched earlier in May and is run by Sunna Gudnadottir, a young start-up whose ambition is to create the biggest collection of Icelandic films online.
So far, some 30+ films, TV shows, music videos and other audiovisual content are available with English subtitles, (some are available in other languages as well), for downloads, and later it will be possible to buy DVDs and soundtracks online.
The price of downloading a film ranges from Euro 0 - 4, and pricing varies according to the quality of films. New films will be added each month, and next month another 30 titles will be available for streaming.
Icelandic Cinema Online is a non-profit project, and one of the purposes of the site is also to create an online platform for Icelandic producers and filmmakers to promote their work.

NFI Introduces Package Support for Docs 
As part of a strengthened focus on documentaries and to achieve the goal of increased exports of Norwegian films, the Norwegian Film Institute has introduced a package grant system to the international launch of documentaries starting in the 2nd half of 2011.
The funds are allocated by application to four different production companies with grants of NOK 250.000. The funds will go to the launch of the company's total, current documentary portfolio.
In the selection process, emphasis will be on the films' international sales potential as well as on launch plans for the individual films.
Also the production company's overall objectives and plans for international investment in of its documentary portfolio are important. NFI will also look at past experience and achievements in the assessment of grants.
The producer should carry 25% of the investment or more, i.e. public funding can be up to 75 percent of reported costs.
Read more about application deadlines and criteria here.

Private Sponsor Support to Shorts and Docs in Stockholm area 
In partnership with the private sector of facility-houses and rental companies, Filmbasen, Film Stockholm and Film Region Stockholm-Mälardalen have launched a new form of production support of shorts and documentary films in the area of Stockholm-Mälardalen.
The support is given as so-called Technique Checks sponsored by three private companies: The full-service facility house STOPP, the full-service post-production house The Line AB and the rental company Dagsljus AVB.
The companies will sponsor professional equipment and postproduction totalling SEK 1,3 millions to primarily young filmmakers and/or innovative projects.
The initiative of the Technique Checks aims to strengthen talent development in the Stockholm region and to stimulate new partnerships that benefit the industry in general and improves conditions for production of short and documentary films in the region.

Starting in late August, Filmbasen, the centre of talent development managed by Film Stockholm, will be distributing a number of checks to selected short- and documentary film projects in the Stockholm-Mälardalen area throughout 2011. Then the scheme will be evaluated.

SFI News on New Platform 
From August, the Swedish Film Institute's news service Filmnyhetarna will move to a new platform on SFI's website.
The decision is part of SFI's efforts to create a forum for open online discussions and seminars and to spread knowledge about Swedish films. The new platform will host news, debates, criticism and analyses as well as a catalogue listing film workers in Sweden.
According to Filmnyheterna, the new CEO of SFI, Anna Serner, who takes on her new position in October, wants to bring film on the public agenda and it is expected that she will encourage more debate within and outside the film sector.
After four years of existence, the site of Filmnyhetarna will close down at the end of June.

Film & Kino to Close Down 
The oldest film magazine in Norway, Film & Kino that started in 1930 under the name of Norwegian Film Magazine will be closed down as of 1 December 2012.
The magazine is published by the Norwegian industry organisation Film & Kino and has a print run of 1.800 copies. Editor of the film magazine since 2007, Geir Kamsvåg, took over from Kalle Løchen who held the position as editor for 18 years.
Film & Kino was threatened by closure back in 2007, but the board decided to continue the magazine in a renewed form with more focus on the film industry. But due to economic reasons, the management of Film & Kino has now decided to close the magazine down. The funds released by the close down will be transferred to support quality films.

Co-productions Affected by YLE Cut Backs 
Since 2010, the Finnish TV station YLE has been experiencing an uncertain financial situation, and documentary filmmakers who work with YLE are being affected by it.
In short, the licence fee system of in Finland is coming to an end, and the Finnish Government elected in April 2011 hasn't yet agreed upon a new financing system to replace the old one. This has resulted in a 40% cut-back on co-productions with independent film makers for the current year.

Filmmakers and other freelancers working with YLE have expressed their dissatisfaction in a protest published in a press release, arguing that it could have been prevented by a swift action from the new Finnish Parliament.

Executive Producer of Co-Productions at YLE, Erkki Astala, calls it a temporary measure, and he hopes the question of the financing of YLE will be solved soon.
- In the long run YLE aims to increase the level of commissions from independent producers to a higher level than it was before, he says to Filmkontakt Nord.

Astala agrees that Finnish documentary filmmakers will feel the changes.
- In the short run this will of course result in a dry season for the Finnish documentary scene at a moment where Finnish documentaries have reached a new upswing both creatively and in terms of audience appreciation. For some small production companies this can prove fatal.

Independent documentary filmmaker Kirsi Mattila has an international documentary project she hasn't been able to sell to any channel at YLE, and she is convinced this has to do with the financial situation.

- In practice it is impossible to get funding from the big funding organizations in Finland for documentaries (The Finnish Film Foundation and AVEK),as they do not fund projects that do not have a distributor. Nor can we consider international co-production for the same reason that we do not have a distributor in Finland, Mattila explains.

She is also worried that YLE's plans to merge the two main documentary strands, TV1's Sunday Documentary and TV2 Documentaries into a new strand will result in reduced air time for documentaries in the future.

The new strand called Documentaries is to be placed on TV1, and according to Erkki Astala, the amount of domestic documentaries shown will not decrease drastically.

- The new strand will show both journalistic and creative Finnish documentaries and aims to give them a better platform than before, he says.

But at the end of the day, Astala confirms that the cut-backs will have effects on YLE's future documentary profile. 

- There will be less space for international documentaries in the future, and the "flagship of creative documentary" that some have considered YLE to have been will carry considerably less cargo than before, he says.

Digitisation of Nordic Cinemas Advances 
In a near future, 35mm distribution in Nordic cinemas will be history. The digitisation process of cinemas is advancing in the Nordic countries - at various speeds.
A pioneer in the digital process, Norway, started the conversion to digital screenings in late 2009 and will finalise the digital roll out of 414 screens (out of 430) across the country by August 2011. Most cinemas in Norway are owned and run by the municipalities and Film & Kino. Film & Kino is a combined member organisation for Norwegian municipalities and industry organisation for the cinema and video industry and has been a key player in the digitisation process. The total budget of the digitisation process in Norway amounted to NOK 390 million.

There are 172 cinemas operating in Finland, (294 screens), and 30 % of Finnish screens have been converted to digital technology. According to an interview with Irina Krohn, CEO of the Finnish Film Foundation, published at Nordisk Film & TV Fond's website, this has resulted in a broader variety of film premiers and documentary films in the regions and has made other forms of film content such as simultaneous transmission of live concerts available for cinema audiences.
The ambition of the Finnish Film Foundation is to get the entire film sector digitised by 2013 and to work for and increased public support from the Finnish Government of Euro 4 million per year.
In Iceland, the digital DCP process started back in 2006 with the local distributor and cinema owner SAMfilm. Three cinema distributors, Sena, SAMFilm and Myndform have installed digital equipment. SAMFilm currently operates a total of 6 cinemas and SENA operates 3 cinemas. There are 16 cinemas in Iceland and out of 42 screens, 22 are digitised.
In Sweden, the digitization process has been accelerated by the Government's decision to allocate the first quarter of a SEK 60 million state-funding scheme in 2011 instead of from 2012.
The Swedish Film Institute has been commissioned to work out a framework for the distribution of a time-limited support scheme for the digitization of cinemas.
One of the criterias is that the state's contribution can represent a maximum of 50% of the total investment. Another is that supported cinemas should ensure a variety of films in small areas.
There are 478 cinemas in Sweden and 833 screens. 177 screens have digital 2K equipment.
In Denmark, the Film Agreement has opened up for an annual support of DKK 28 million to the investment in digital projectors. The Danish Film Institute will be operating two support initiatives aiming at both art cinemas, small local cinemas and other cinemas.
The first is a direct support for the investment in digital equipment that supports cinemas in non-urban areas and cinemas with a repertoire of predominantly European films in their investment in digital equipment. Each cinema may receive a single grant portion of DKK 200.000 (26.810 Euros).

The cost of a digital projector amounts to DKK 500-800.000 and in many cases, cinemas will have to seek additional funding from local or regional sources as well. The second part of the programme grants indirect support to the remaining cinemas based on the number of screenings of Danish films. The support programmes will be effective from August 2011. In Denmark 83 cinemas out of 162 are equipped with digital screens. Read more about deadlines and regulations here.

D-Cinema from a Festival Point of View
Filmkontakt Nord asked festival director of Minimalen Short Film Festival in Trondheim Per Fikse, about his view of the digitisation process, its pro and cons and what it will mean to cinemas and to festivals.

A few facts: Most projectors in Norwegian cinemas are 2k to 4k projectors and the film content is distributed as DCP; data files on certified harddisks. This is to ensure reliability of the providers.
Last year, an agreement setting up the exhibition standards, a so-called VPR-agreement (Virtual Print Fee), was reached between Film & Kino and six of the major Hollywood studios.
'A deal with the devil', Per Fikse calls it.

-After D-day, this means that the commercial cinemas are not allowed to screen 35mm at all. They'll get a big fine if they do, even on those films that are not available as DCP, he says.

This said, Fiske agrees that digitisation does have obvious advantages.
- The positive side for the cinemas: the number of screening copies makes it possible to have premieres even in small cities, and the problems of prints being worn out are eliminated, Per Fikse explains.

On the negative side, Fikse mentions the fact, that studios will have complete control over copies, and that because operating keys are locked to each projector, screenings cannot be moved from one venue to another without a new key.

- In Trondheim we have 19 venues, by now there's only five left with 35mm equipment. And this means strongly reduced equipment maintenance on those five. So to sum up: It is technologically easy to make more copies, but the rights owners and their herd of lawyers will add obstacles to limit that ease, he says.

Per Fikse thinks the digitisation measures will have both good and bad consequences for the film festivals.
- A good thing is that the 35mm ban opens a further niche for festivals, cinematheques and film societies. A bad thing: So where can they screen them when the public cinemas are more or less ruled out? This means there will be a need for specific cinematheque-venues with all 35mm film projection facilities, he explains.

- Digitisation is good for video screenings, because there is cinema grade 4k projectors (or at least 2k) everywhere. Unfortunately, the rest of the world is still using 35 mm film prints, Fiske concludes.

Film festivals will need DCPs to take full scale advantage of the system of Cinema servers (Kodak, Sony etc), and this may cause some problems, according to Fikse.

- It is possible to produce DCPs in certain editing suites like Final Cut, but a lot of these DCPs are flawed, and crash when played in the cinema.

So to sum up: The needs of the cinemas and the needs of the festivals are very different. The digitisation will be a nightmare to all festivals that need to use commercial cinemas for their purpose and want to screen 35 mm prints. Lucky are those who have their own venue, i.e. a cinematheque, Fikse concludes.

Global Online Movie Theatre Hosts Screenings for Live Audiences
Founded in 2011 by James Lawler and Reid Carolin, is a new social viewing venture showing films to live audiences on the Internet.
Constellation hosts screenings on their website and show them at specific times. Some filmmakers host their own screenings, invite guests, stars or conduct live video Q&A's after the film. Audiences buy their tickets online and are able to chat with eath other during screenings. It takes up-dated versions of browser software as well as a broadband Internet connection to get the best result of the screenings. 

Danish filmmaker and producer Mikkel Stolt is hosting a screening of his documentary-fiction film, My Avatar and Me on Sunday, June 26, 2011.
My Avatar and Me is about a man who enters the virtual world of Second Life to pursue his personal dreams and ambitions. His journey into cyberspace becomes a magic learning experience, which gradually opens the gates to a much larger reality.
Mikkel Stolt, leading actor and co-director of the film, will be present live in the premiere screening and will host the virtual Q&A. All screenings will be accessible from around the world.