“I rarely get as struck by fiction films as by documentaries”
Industry Report: Documentary
Melissa Lindgren • Producer, Story
The 2022 Emerging Producer from Sweden believes that the strongest and most fascinating stories are found in reality
Why do you produce documentaries? Do you understand documentary film as an instrument of social and political change?
Melissa Lindgren: First and foremost I produce documentary films from a place of passion for documentary storytelling. I believe that the strongest and most fascinating stories are found in reality, and I rarely get as struck by fiction films as by documentaries. With that said I also believe that documentary cinema is a powerful tool for creating change. I tend to work with filmmakers that have a unique and powerful point of view, and social and political aspects are certainly part of that. But I try to stay away from more campaign-like films which are in my opinion less interesting.
The pandemic had an impact on the entire sector. How did it influence your work as a producer? Have the projects that you work on changed?
From a production point of view it’s been a nightmare. Many of our international projects had to be put on hold and instead we tried to develop more, which will create further challenges if several projects are finished at the same time. The toughest part though has been to keep the filmmakers motivated and optimistic whilst they’re facing the most difficult challenge and uncertainties in their careers. There is no handbook for that.
What do you think is the future of the distribution of documentary films?
Many of us were optimistic about the big platforms in the beginning. It seemed like the budgets were going up and that they were willing to take risks with more daring projects. That is not the case anymore and the content is sadly getting more and more streamlined. I’m not sure where the distribution of creative documentary film lies in the future, but one thing is certain. We will need to find more creative solutions on how to get our films out there and hope for more alternative platforms to arise in the wake of the giants. And of course, I hope the festivals will keep doing such amazing work and that cinema distribution will somehow come back to life after Covid. Our films are made for the big screen after all.
What projects do you have underway?
Too many! I think it will be an exciting couple of years. We just premiered the short film Night Shift (dir. Lia Hietala and Hannah Reinikainen) at the Göteborg Film Festival. The international premiere will be official very soon too. Near completion is Göran Hugo Olsson’s new film The Society of the Spectacle which he directed with acclaimed Swedish artist Roxy Farhat. Other films near completion include Laws of the Wild (dir. Sally Jacobson and Tuva Björk), Labor (dir. Tove Pils) and Sister Calls (dir. Annika Fredriksson). All of them have been made by super talented first-time filmmakers. Finally I can mention Our Love, the second feature length film by Lia Hietala and Hannah Reinikainen, which recently took part in the Doc Forward workshop and Megaheartz by Emily Norling which will be pitched at CPH:DOX Forum this year.
EMERGING PRODUCERS is a leading promotional and educational project, which brings together talented European documentary film producers. The programme is organised and curated by the Ji.hlava International Documentary Film Festival.
Deadline for applications to the EMERGING PRODUCERS 2023 edition is 31 March 2022.
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