Speaking in Venice this weekend, Norwegian Minister of Culture Trond Giske has outlined the country's long-term plans to boost film production and to attract foreign movies.
At a time when other Western European Governments are feeling the financial squeeze, Norway is continuing to strike a bullish note about its film policy. The oil-rich Norwegians are committed to boosting further their public investment in film.
The Government has already shaken up Norwegian public film bodies, bringing them together as a single organisation, The Norwegian Film Institute. As has been reported, the aim now is to ensure that Norwegian films enjoy a 25% share of their domestic market.
Meanwhile, Giske (who was in Venice for the screening of Eva Sorhaug's Cold Lunch, the opening title in Critics' Week) has promised that Norway's rate of production will increase to 25 feature-length movies a year. 'That gives us a broader audience, a broader variety of films and a big chance of success,' the Minister said.
Norway is investing heavily in the marketing of its movies in a bid to get more titles selected for international festivals. 'The platform is there. The next step is the internationalisation of the Norwegian film industry, not only through the festivals but gaining market share and selling (abroad.)'
Giske said that further funds will be released for marketing and promotion in the 2009 budget, with a likely 30% increase on the current budget of 1 million Euros. In order to lure international productions to the country, the aim is for Norway to join the European Convention co-production agreement. The Government is still aiming to introduce its long-delayed 15% tax break system.
Asked why supporting the Norwegian film industry ranks so high in the Government's current priorities, the Minister said: 'it (film) is an art form that has been treated unequally. It has been sitting at the end of the table.
'Film has been looked down on .for me, it is important to lift those areas that haven't really been acknowledged in the field of culture Also, film communicates very well with young people. It creates work opportunity, economic development and perhaps also tourism.'
Giske acknowledged the danger that with so much public subsidy available, Norwegian filmmakers might lose the entrepreneurial skills required for success in the international marketplace.
'Our goal is that the average support for each film, which is today around 75%, should decrease to 50%. The goal is that half of the money for each film will come from private investment and ticket sales. There is a danger that people get a little lazy when public money is available.'