The primary purpose of Nordisk Film & TV Fond is to stimulate cross border collaborations in the Nordic region and to promote Nordic talent and works. How did the Nordic cooperation evolve under your time as CEO and what schemes did you initiate to contribute to this overall mandate?
Hanne Palmquist: The Nordic collaboration evolved quite substantially during my time at the Fund, primarily due to the fact that the volume of TV drama productions went up throughout the Nordic countries. At the same time, the Golden Age of Nordic drama was well underway with shows like The Killing, Borgen and The Bridge. We did a workshop about drama-series where acclaimed UK producers like Steve Garrett and Andy Harries spoke to the Nordic drama-series industry. The workshop was called “There is Something Going On” – which was exactly right!

In terms of special initiatives, the Nordic Council Film Prize had been launched during Svend Abrahamsen’s time. I took over and gave the prize much attention, arranging screenings of the nominated films in all Nordic countries, in collaboration with local distributors.

During my time at the helm, fortunately it was possible to apply at the Nordic Council of Ministers for a specific grant to expand the work around new initiatives out of the ordinary. Nordisk Film & TV Fond applied with a number of ideas and received an additional € 1,000,000 over three years. I bought a hat in Stockholm to celebrate as a token. The € 1,000,000 hat☺.  Various initiatives saw the light, several under the ‘High Five’ label. 

  • Nordic High Five Distribution was set up to help Nordic films cross boarders and reach a wider audience, in collaboration with Camera Film (DK), TriArt (SE), Arthaus (NO), BioRex (FI) and Greenlight Films (IS).  
  • High Five International Cinema Distribution Support was a scheme under which international distributors could apply for partial coverage of marketing costs relating to the theatrical premiere of Nordic Films in their home countries.
  • High Five Cross Media for Kids was an initiative created in collaboration with Power to the Pixel, to develop strong Nordic stories for kids to be viewed on multiple platforms.

More minor initiatives also saw the day of light – some were launched during Berlin and Cannes: 

  • Creative Connections”, jointly organised with the UK Film Council, the Nordic Embassies and MEDIA Desks during the 2011 Berlin Film Festival to encourage creative co-production relationships between the UK and the Nordic countries.  
  • Nordic Kitchen Party, an initiative to promote the Nordic brand and creativity, whereby key buyers, programmers and media reps could mingle on the Scandinavian Terrace during the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. The event was co-organised by Scandinavian Films, SF International Sales, TrustNordisk, NonStop Sales, The Yellow Affair, Level K and New Nordic Food.

Can you cite a handful of films, documentaries and/or TV dramas that had a major impact on a Nordic and international level when you were CEO?
HP: It is very hard to select from a number of such strong and important titles but to name a few, I would say the series The Killing, Borgen, The Legacy, The Bridge, Real Humans, Heavy Water War, Lilyhammer, Dag, the feature films Antichrist, In a Better World, The Hunt, the Snabba Cash (Easy Money) trilogy, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Kon-Tiki, Headhunters, The Deep, Purge, Niko and the Way to the Stars and the documentaries The Act of Killing, Steam of Life, Armadillo, Palme, Putin’s Kiss.

Could you share one or two anecdotes from when you were CEO?
HP: A couple of anecdotes that both include the visionary and former CEO Dag Alveberg whom I have a lot to thank and whom I often think of and miss dearly.

Back in the spring of 2006 Dag knew that I had applied for the job as CEO and had made it through the first round. A few days before the second and final interview at Hotel Pakhus 71 in Copenhagen, Dag called me over the phone in a mix of eager and “annoyed” mood - almost like a Dad speaking to his teenage-daughter☺. He said something like; 'Hanne you have to grow up now, you have to prepare and make a firm decision – you cannot walk into that interview room and be wishy washy and hesitant about the job and moving to Oslo'. Dag knew me well! My second interview was a Monday afternoon and before entering the hotel I sat in the sun by the harbour-front with Dag’s voice in mind. At that moment I decided that the job was mine.

I got the job and moved to Oslo to take over after Svend January 1st, 2007. Back then, the office was located in Filmparken in Jar just a few buildings away from the Maipo office (company founded by Dag Alveberg). A few months into the job I received a production support application from Maipo. I read and evaluated all the material, turned it down and sent a friendly email to Dag to explain why. Shortly after I heard energetic footsteps on the stairs going up to the office and knew that Dag was on his way. He came in as a whirlwind, sat down and said; 'Hanne you made the right decision, the project doesn’t sufficiently live up to the aim of the Fund. Well done and keep up the good work.' Then he smiled and left the office.

I also have three great moments that stand out when strolling down memory lane.

  • 2011 – The Creative Connection dinner in Berlin  where the Fund and the UK Film Council had invited creative producers from UK and the Nordic countries to network over a full Nordic taste-menu experience and private concert with the Danish singer, Agnes Obel. It was a magic evening in every aspect!
  • 2012 – the Nordic Council Film Prize, with Dame Helen Mirren as honorary jury member. Seeing a room full of Nordic journalists applauding when the Oscar-winning actress announced and saluted Pernilla August for her film Beyond was worth all the endless worries and loads of work during my summer vacation, to make sure that Helen Mirren would honour Nordic film with her presence in Copenhagen for the voting and the announcement of the Nordic Council Film Prize winner/film 2012.
  • 2008 - It was also a very special moment when over a coffee in Oslo telling Roy Andersson that he would receive the 2008 Nordic Council Film Prize for You The Living, to see his very happy face both because he was so honoured and because the money coming with the prize would give him the opportunity to continue developing A Pigeon Sat on a Branch, Reflecting on Existence.

Do you have a special wish for the Nordic film & TV community as we enter a new decade?
HP: Stay focused on quality and originality. Keep your passion. Don’t take shortcuts because you are too busy thinking of the next production. In a time of high demands and strong competition, stay loyal and fair and help your network and colleagues whenever possible.