Aftenposten 2014 01 22
Some years ago I met with Israeli moviemaker Amos Gitai at the short film festival in Grimstad; where he was the guest of honor.
He has been researching the conflicted Israeli reality perhaps more than anyone else; for a week he had been watching Norwegian films giving the impression of depicting a socialist model farm, possessing no profound conflicts.
While on a boat trip near the picturesque shoreline; he watched me somewhat ruefully, asking whether there really were so few conflicts around here.
I was reminded of this meeting as Israeli TV producer Reshef Levi recently visited the drama convent of Norwegian television. Like so many other Israeli producers; he is traveling the world to inform on the success of Israeli television dramas, in the wake of global hits like Homeland and In Treatment (Both based on Israeli series). In the company of Karni Ziv, the drama leader of Keshet TV; he did not hide the fact that dramas are tailored to Israeli mentality, being direct and emotional, and also being anchored in families.
Not only this: the sociopolitical context and the idea of being surrounded by enemies makes Israelis live in the present. Much is at stake.
Never the less, there were Israeli TV forces thinking in a long perspective as they went for a tours of studies to Denmark.
“There, we stole the Danish model”, Levi said, giving this piece of advice to Norwegian colleagues, already given by the Danes: “Force politicians to make TV channels commit, to invest even more in TV dramas. Only this way can a small nation succeed as a TV nation.
Throughout many years, we have almost tediously looked at Denmark being a model to us when it comes to creating movies and TV series. Looking at other small nations makes this comparison more problematic; though not uninteresting.
The cases of Rumania, Greece and Argentina- all nations hit by crises, yet having won numerous awards on film festivals world-wide, invites to a debate on the relations between wealth and creativity. However, in this context, social crisis are not the backdrop for the search by the Norwegian cultural authorities for a new policy on filmmaking.
However, some choices should be made. Norwegian policy on filmmaking is pragmatic, and has the imprint of compromises. “Relax, there’s something for all”, as Wesenlund once stated.
However, as shown by the Danish and Israeli examples, hedging your bets for all tastes is not good enough. There has been a lot of talk recently within the Norwegian TV community over granting trust and creative license. Yet, Norwegian TV drama appears to be run by the defensive approach by the TV channels to stick to the well-known and predictable. But if we are to make an impact as a drama nation; inspiration at seminars is not good enough. Like the Israelis, we must pilfer, making it ours.