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Behind the scenes of TrustNordisk – the polar bear’s international ambassador

They travel the world and represents Nordisk Film wherever they go. They are the reason why the rest of the world nods in recognition of Lars von Trier, Susanne Bier, 'In a Better World' and 'Armadillo' – they are the polar bear's international ambassadors.

By Ebbe Tølbøll Nielsen

Nordisk Film knows all about distributing films in the North, but how is it when productions are to enter the global markets? At TrustNordisk they sit at the other side of the table when the movies of Nordisk Film, and the movies of Nordisk Film's partner's, are sold abroad.

"Much of our work culminates at the big film festivals, but ahead of this lies a huge amount of work ... When we go to Berlin or Cannes, we burn off everything we have got in just 6-7 days, so in advance, we must be absolutely sure that the key buyers of the industry comes to our events. Our network is everything, it is for sure our most valuable asset," explains Rikke Ennis, CEO of TrustNordisk.

Recently, TrustNordisk was at the Berlin Film Festival where both Lars von Trier's 'Melancolia' and the Jo Nesbø thriller 'Headhunters' were sold to American Magnolia Pictures. The movies were sold, after promos of respectively 1,5 and a 4,5 minutes, under a bit unconventional circumstances.

"Magnolia arrived at the Zentropa apartment at 11pm in the evening, and at 2am we stared to rock out to Led Zeppelin – it was totally surreal ... The negotiations dragged on, and suddenly competition started to call in on the phone ... We sat until 6am where the contract was signed, and this is where you think 'How insane is this, that we work in an industry where you can negotiate over a hardcore Gin and Tonic?'," says Rikke Ennis.

At the same time Rikke explains how buyers, like everyone else, have been economical challenged for the past years. According to her, the distributors have become more selective and are forces to prioritize their investments at a much higher extend than before. This means that not all movies can sell, and as a sales agent you must therefore be more critical of what you show the customers in order to maintain their trust – but the movies that sells, sells better than ever before.

"Denmark is a largely recognized film nation. We have reached the top with the Oscar – that is extreme ... Millennium has also been a huge success and where we used to spend time knocking in doors, they now seem to open up instead. I can say with certainty that there are no interesting buyers with any self-respect, who do not book a meeting with Trust Nordisk at a festival. It is this brand that we must make sure to protect. It is a great honor to have, but we must also be very humble about it," she says.

TrustNordisk was established in 2007 as a fusion between the international sales departments of Zentropa and Nordisk Film. And even though they travel most days of the year and lives next door to Peter Aalbæk, they very much feel as a part of the Nordisk Film family, Rikke Ennis tells.

"It is a really interesting job to part of two such different companies ... On one hand you have the completely anarchistic Zentropa, and on the other you have the more corporate Nordisk Film. I think the combination of the two brought together in a small joint baby, called TrustNordisk, is quite unique and I am extremely proud to be part of it."