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Last Updated: Friday, 11 June, 2004, 13:37 GMT 14:37 UK
Changing fortune of Swedish 'Trollywood'
By Lars Bevanger
BBC in Trollhattan, Sweden

The small Swedish city of Trollhattan has gone from severe post-industrial depression, with rocketing unemployment figures, to northern Europe's movie-making hotspot in less than 10 years.

Now increasingly known as "Trollywood", this city was until recently best known for making Saab cars.

Film set
Half of all Swedish films are now shot in Trollhattan
It is fast becoming the film production centre of choice for directors from Europe and beyond.

The Danish star director Lars von Trier shot his Palme d'Or award-winning Dancer in the Dark here, featuring the Icelandic singer Bjork.

The backdrop of that film - large industrial brick buildings - illustrates the transformation this city has gone through.

Trollhattan was the very cradle of Sweden's industrialisation. Those brick buildings featured in von Trier's film used to house manufacturing industries.

But by the mid 1990s, the city was in a deep depression.

New business

Stig Fredriksson, from the Trollhattan municipality, stands outside one of the city's four major film studios. Steam engines on order from Lenin's young Soviet Union were once made here.

Mr Fredriksson still cannot quite believe what has happened to his city.

The whole city really takes care of you if you're a filmmaker. They're quite proud of the fact that all these films are being shot here
Henrik Georgsson,
film director
"We had an unemployment of about 19%, which was very high for us," he says. "At that time, to be honest, Trollhattan was a quite dull, quite grey industrial town."

When a few film fanatics came along and suggested turning all the old industrial buildings into film studios, few envisaged the complete transformation of the city that would follow.

When the first films made in Trollhattan hit the big screen to great acclaim, new businesses linked to film production mushroomed.

"Now it's quite an international city with a lot of restaurants, pubs and many small new companies growing. Today the unemployment rate is about 5.2%," says Mr Fredriksson.

Old industrial works (Picture courtesy of Landsarkivet i Gothenburg, c 130 nohabarkiven_
Before the film industry arrived, Trollhattan was an industrial city
The film industry now employs around 2,000 people in this town of 50,000. Today half of all Swedish feature films are made here, and more and more large international productions too.

The last big international hit to come out of Trollhattan was Dogville, starring Nicole Kidman.

At the set of a new Swedish film called Sandor Slash Ida, director Henrik Georgsson wraps up another scene.

There are many good reasons to shoot a film in Trollhattan, he says.

"It's a good thing to be in another city, so in the evenings people don't go home to their separate lives, we stay here at the same place and we can discuss things."

Real jobs

Mr Georgsson is also happy with the funding his film gets from the local production company, Film I Vast.

They will invest in any film being shot in Trollhattan, but in return demand that film makers use local forces wherever possible - from catering to post production.

Bengt Toll, from Film I Vast, is proud of what they have achieved:

Nicole Kidman
Hollywood stars are now regulars on the streets of Trollywood
"We have good facilities, a work force that is very skilled and the infrastructure works very well.

"The whole city really takes care of you if you're a filmmaker. And they take part in it in a way that you quite seldom see. They're quite proud of the fact that all these films are being shot here."

Talking to people in Trollhattan's main street, it seems everyone is affected in some way by the movies.

Some have been working out with Hollywood star Danny Glover in the municipal gym, others have lent their house, car or dog to a film shoot.

But many young people here have found real jobs in the business, and no longer dream of leaving a depressing small city for the capital Stockholm.

The next big international film to come out of Trollhattan, or Trollywood if you like, is Lars von Trier's second instalment of his trilogy, which started with Dogville.

It is called Mandalay and stars Danny Glover. That will be that guy down the local Trollhattan gym.

Saab to cut 1,300 jobs
27 Nov 02 |  Business
16 Feb 04 |  Review
Kidman leaves Von Trier project
24 Jul 03 |  Entertainment
Dogville was 'too provocative'
27 May 03 |  Entertainment
Country profile: Sweden
16 May 04 |  Country profiles

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