While minorities have longbeen a part of the daily lives in the Nordic region, they have had a hard timemaking an impression on the big screen.
It is hardly surprising thatSweden has been the most open to filmmakers with foreign background, but nowNorway is catching up leaving Denmark as the most monochrome industry.
Until recently the onlyminority seen on screen in a Norwegian film was the rare Saami in films like Pathfinderand Bazo, but the next year will see no less than three films fromNorwegians with less arctic backgrounds.
Norwegian Film Fund lastmonth put a substantial $1.2m (NOK 7.5m) behind Izzat, the feature debutof Ulrik Imtiaz Rolfsen, who set his Goodfellas-like gangster storyamong the Pakistani youth gangs in Norway.
The action film, which thedirector co-wrote with Leon Bashir, is produced by veteran John M. Jacobsen'sFilmkameratene.
Khalid Hussain, who has asimilar Pakistani-Norwegian background, received $1.18m (NOK7.3m) in 2003, butdidn't start shooting his romantic comedy Import-Export until Octoberthis year. It is set in the Pakistani community in Oslo, and sees a Norwegianman falling in love with a Pakistani girl, who has been promised to her cousin.However, the Norwegian is willing to convert to Islam and is ready to try andchange the family's view of mixed marriages.
It stars newcomers Iram Haqand Bjoernar Liseth Teigen and is produced by Egil Oedegaard's FilmhusetProduksjoner in collaboration with Denmark's Zentropa Entertainment andSweden's Illusion Film. Oedegaard also produced Moroccan-born Nour-EddineLakhmari's long delayed The Return, which sees a war photographer returnto his native Morocco for the first time since the violence there in the late50's.
While Denmark has seen anincrease in production in the last couple of years, none of the films have beendirected by a minority filmmaker. Talented actor Janus Nabil Bakrawi co-wroteand starred in two features, Pizza King and Gemini, but neitherwas directed by a minority filmmaker.
Instead Denmark, much to theenvy of its Nordic neighbours, has had a slew of highly successful femaledirectors dominating the market. The likes of Susanne Bier (Brothers),Annette K. Olesen (In Your Hands), Lone Scherfig (Wilbur) andCharlotte Sachs Bostrup (Anja After Viktor) have been the biggest drawsat the box-office, and are all developing new features to be shot in 2005.
Sweden is the biggestcountry in the region, and the one most open to immigrants, so it came as nosurprise when it was the first to see a number of films from minorityfilmmakers.
In 2000 filmmakers likeJosef Fares (Jalla! Jalla!), Susan Taslimi (House In Hell), RezaBagher (Wings Of Glass) and Reza Parsa (Before The Storm) allmade films about their mixed backgrounds with reasonable critical and commercialsuccess.
However, while neitherTaslimi nor Parsa has made feature films since, Fares and Bagher turned torural Swedish material in Kops and Popular Music respectively. Versatile actorand director Baker Karim has yet to make his feature debut, but Fares hasturned back to his roots in his highly anticipated new film Zozo, whichrecently wrapped its shoot in Lebanon and Sweden. It is inspired by his ownlife and follows a young boy, who moves from Lebanon to Sweden with his family.It will be released in fall 2005.
For full Nordic production listings, click here