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Lennart Ström • Managing director, M:brane

“We are greatly looking forward to our comeback or – why not – our revenge!”


- We caught up with the head of the Malmö-based co-production forum, for a chat about the forthcoming March edition

Lennart Ström • Managing director, M:brane
(© Caroline Troedsson/M:brane)

We re-connected with Sweden’s Lennart Ström, head of M:brane, the Malmö-based co-production forum for children's media content held since 2007, for a good pep talk on the forthcoming March edition of the event.

Cineuropa: How has the year been, particularly the last ten months? Your last edition should have taken place in March 2020, just when certain things started to make other things very difficult.
Lennart Ström:
That was one tough spring, yes. We were among the very first to be affected by the COVID-19 alarms; in fact, 10 March, our opening day, coincided with the European outbreak. We had to readjust, rather than cancel or postpone. We realised right away that many events would be moved around and that schedules would soon fill up. I was also up against the fact that the whole team was under contract for a fixed period and that I risked being left behind as a one-man operation – quite a distraught one at times. But a plan B gradually materialised, which worked out, all things considered and despite not being able to rub elbows with old and new friends. We did online events, which allowed us to be present at several festivals and industry gatherings – more than usual, in fact. I soon realised that, although digital meetings can be somewhat challenging, they make you more selective and focused. We’ve been part of creating content for other events, like Sunny Side of the Doc in La Rochelle, where we had some very nice and generous interactions. We participated in the Silbersalz Science and Media Festival and hope to collaborate with them in the future. I have realised that the demand is still there for our operation of choice: connecting, discussing and exploring bold and crossover content aimed at a young audience.

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You and your team quite quickly came up with a slogan: “We Will Be Back 2021”. So what’s the plan? Or plans? After all, one has to prepare for uncertainty.
At M:brane, we like things to move along; we like to reshape and question the operation each year. What can change? Who needs us, and what kind of project should we focus on? We want to make a difference, and although our concept works well, we are constantly developing alongside a fresh generation that will ask us some tough questions and challenge some rigid structures. While this year may not be a great one for sizeable changes, we are greatly looking forward to our comeback or – why not – our revenge!

That slogan gave us a spirit of forward motion, which, it’s turned out, was indeed much needed in times like these… We tentatively planned, and later re-planned, around some real-life, physical programme items. Right now, these are obviously on the back burner. But the forum will commence on 15 March with our RealYoung documentary workshop, a closed event where eight producers will present a project to young and older experts. 16 March is the Opening Industry Day. We have a panel of distributors, cinema owners and producers called “One Film Can’t Have It All”. Under the heading “Science and Natural History Track”, we will address the growing young interest in climate, the universe and the Big Bang. There will also be a good Canadian focus.

The subsequent few days will be centred on pitching, with 26 projects (set to be announced on 28 January) and 50 decision makers, with possibilities for one-on-one meetings. Many different formats have been submitted, including VR, which we greatly look forward to. Anyone working within the audiovisual industry – producers, exhibitors, etc – are very welcome to attend as observers, in which role they can then connect with projects of interest, as a co-producer, for example.

How have the attendance levels been? In line with expectations?
Approximately the same; we certainly have not had any problems inviting decision makers and experts – on the contrary. These online things sometimes make things much easier.

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