Eighteen years after the birth of the company, its position is stronger than ever. The catalogue of local cult films like The way back – True Blue 2 featuring a young Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Walking on Water about the dreams surrounding the construction of the Öresunds Bridge connecting Denmark and Sweden year 2000. The Socialist, The Architect and the Twisted Tower, a local film that travelled the world, including DVD-release in Spain and US.
In 2009 the company became the most well-known production company in the country, partly through its co-production Burma VJ, nominated to an Oscar and released theatrically in Sweden with great reviews. But more important, Fredrik Gertten’s BANANAS!*, the most famous Swedish documentary for the last 30 years. BANANAS!* did great on cinema and on DVD, the lawsuit against the filmmaker, the producer and the company made every Swede aware about the film and the production company. The film was screened in the Swedish Parliament and a majority of the MP:s signed a petition asking Dole to withdraw the lawsuit. 2009 was the year when WG Film went from being well-known for quality within the business to a company that many Swedes have heard about.
History. WG Film (former Westman & Gertten AB) was founded in 1994 by the experienced documentary filmmaker Lars Westman and journalist Fredrik Gertten. Lars Westman is one of the great Swedish filmmakers, his breakthrough came as early as 1970 with the film Comrade, the opponent is well organized. Since then he has made many films that today are part of Swedish film history. In 2000 he received the Bo Widerberg Award in recognition of a lifetime dedicated to film. Fredrik Gertten has been a journalist since he was 20 years old. He has worked all over the world for radio, television and newspapers.
WG Film realised that Swedish documentary film needed stronger structures, and stronger producers. The goal was to create better conditions for the sort of documentary film that we love. The company has grown out of necessity, it is hard today for a documentary filmmaker to manage on his own if he wants to make films with high artistic and technical quality. Today we have our own camera equipment and three Avid suites in a quiet, comfortable environment. Documentary film of high artistic quality needs a long editing process - we have created good conditions for that.
Today. Our premises are located in central Malmö, near the train to Copenhagen. We mostly work with long, time-consuming film projects, often with a production-time of more than two years, sometimes even longer. We have had the time to develop the skill of managing large quantities of recorded material and turning it into strong documentary films. We are well known for making films about the local community in a universal perspective. We will continue to do that. But we will also make more international films.
WG Film is considered one of the best and most successful companies in the genre of author driven documentary films in Sweden and Internationally. We are also one of the first companies to successfully work internationally both in regards to financing and distribution. With several MEDIA applications accepted, the first one in 2003, and a total of three successful MEDIA Slate funding applications and six MEDIA TV distribution applications, WG Film today serves as an inspiring example to other producers and companies in Sweden and around Europe.
WG Film and Fredrik Gertten also took initiative to the documentary film club Doc Lounge that started up in Malmö in 2006. Documentary films are screened in a club atmosphere with DJ: s, live music and debates. There’s a bar in the room and we regard Doc Lounge as an important tool to hype the genre of documentaries. We have now opened Doc Lounge in more than 10 cities around Scandinavia. BANANAS!* was the first film to be released over the whole net, with 2500 people watching the film. This supported the cinema release in a very strong way.
In Sweden the auteur tradition has been predominant mostly among documentary filmmakers. In reaction to this we realized that it was time to move on, and that therefore, it is necessary to have strong producers. Dramaturgically strong editors have allways been important to us. Since 1998 we have had an expanded cooperation with some of Denmarks foremost editors like Nils Pagh Andersen, Jesper Osmund and Åsa Mossberg. This link to the Danish film industry has been and still is an important part of our identity and of our future. Our shared experience gives us a lot to contribute to younger filmmakers in need of a producer. We have created a strong enviroment that contributes to projects both artistically and economically.
Reduce our dependence on funding organisations like SFI (Swedish Film Institute) and SVT (Swedish Television). This has been acheived through distributing more films in cinemas, DVD and VOD, along with increasing international co-productions and the preservation of broadcast rights.
To keep the rights as close to the originator as possible. We own the rights to all our films.
To increase the degree of financing in each project. MEDIA slate funding increases our ability to finance the projects in time and in the right order. Media's regulatory framework forces us to organize better. Carefull management accounting and better planning!