The Norwegian Ministry of Culture has taken the local film community by surprise with its decision to appoint Stein Slyngstad, an economist with next to no experience of working in the industry, as director of the new Norwegian Film Fund, which comes into being on July 1.

The 40-year-old economist has no experience of film production, and very little knowledge of the local film industry. In fact, his only industry experience comes from four years working as a financial adviser for Oslo Cinemas, the country's largest exhibitor. Instead, Slyngstad's financial and administrative skills are seen as the ministry's main reason for choosing him above one of the usual industry suspects for what is the most powerful job in the Norwegian film business.

Slyngstad's previous positions as managing director of the prestigious Henie Onstad Art Centre and The Stavanger Symphony Orchestra won him plaudits from the Norwegian cultural community. He not only managed to turn around the finances of the institutions, but also attracted large audiences through his innovative marketing campaigns.

Slyngstad, and the newly appointed board led by Kristenn Einarsson, will control $18m in annual state subsidies to the local film industry. The other members of the board are: Turid Hundstad, from the State Education Loan Fund; film producer Edward Dreyer; advertising producer Kjetil Try; film school teacher Kirsten Bryhni; film director Berit Nesheim and TV producer Vidar Nordli-Mathisen.