2006 is set to follow 2003 in taking local films in Norwegian cinemas back to a level not seen since the 1970s.Stein Slyngstad, managing director of the Norwegian Film Fund, said ticket sales for domestic productions over the last week reached around 1.9 million, with three Norwegian features close to the 250,000 mark.

"10 years ago annual attendance for local films was 780,000. After new legislation, and the establishing of the film fund in 2001, the average went up to 1.8 million.

The main reason is an increase of production volume; in 2006, we saw 21 Norwegian releases, including five full-length documentaries, almost twice as many as then," he added.

"Norwegian audiences have regained confidence in local product. At a recentpoll two-thirds of the participants found Norwegian films 'good' or 'very good'.

Still there is a way to go before we fulfill our goal of 20 local feature film productions annually, controlling 25% of the market," Slyngstad concluded.

Average admissions per Norwegian title are approximately 90,000; eight of the 2006 releases have exceeded 100,000.

One of the frontrunners, Roar Uthaug's thriller Cold Prey, which has sold 250,000 tickets as an SF Norge release, will be Norway's first selection for the Slamdance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, between Jan 18-27.