Irrational Love

Nicolo Donato’s directorial debut "Brotherhood" is a frequently violent and yet tender story of love between two men in a radical right-wing community.

Thure Lindhardt og Daniel Dencik i Brotherhood foto Clinton Gaughran

"Brotherhood" photo: Clinton Gaughran

“A love story,” Nicolo Donato stresses. “Above all, it’s a love story.”

"I feel sorry for radical right wings. Resorting to violence is a sign of disenfranchise-ment."

That it is, even if the setup is untraditional. "Brotherhood" is violent, affectionate, a surprising story about a secret love affair between two young men in a radical group. In a muted, at times raw realistic style, using an inquisitive, hand-held camera, Donato paints a picture of the irrational nature of love.

The two leads are played by Thure Lindhardt, who was Flame in "Flame & Citron" (2008), and David Dencik, who broke through in "A Soap" (2006). Lindhardt and Dencik radiate tension in a volatile blend of strength and vulnerability, reflecting their inner conflicts and contradictions.

PAINFUL DILEMMA

Laconic and unambiguously masculine, the two men do their best to hide the feelings that threaten to turn their world upside down. Dropping out of amilitary career, Lars (Thure Lindhardt) is attracted to the brotherhood of a small, radical group, more in rebellion against his domineering mother than for ideological reasons. The group’s leader sees potential in Lars, even as his right-hand man Jimmy (David Dencik) remains sceptical. Jimmy would rather have his younger brother Patrick (Morten Holst) join the group.

When Jimmy and Lars are sent to stay at the group leader’s summerhouse while they fix it up, the vibe between the two silent men soon becomes too strong to ignore. Deeply torn between their feelings for each other and the ideology they cultivate, they start an affair. Eventually, Lars gets fed up with worshipping the Fatherland and creeping around at night bashing Muslims, and when it dawns on him that the group also assaults homosexuals, he ants out. Meanwhile, Jimmy is caught in a painfuldilemma. No matter what he does, he will let down his younger brother, his ideology and his buddies – or Lars and himself. As he well knows, the price of disloyalty to the group is severe. Identity conflicts flare up as the film pits the different brotherhoods against each other.

NETWORKING IN ZENTROPA’S CAFETERIA

"Brotherhood" is the directorial debut of Danish-Italian Nicolo Donato, 34, a former internationally acclaimed fashion photographer who seven years ago decided he had had enough of fashion. He wanted to make films, at any cost.

To pay the bills, he worked in restaurants – at one point he worked in the cafeteria at Zentropa – while taking instruction from filmmakers including Asger Leth and closely studying loads of films by his role models Lars von Trier, Wong Kar Wai, Jørgen Leth, Gus van Sant, Jim Jarmusch and others. Building a network in the film industry (Zentropa’s cafeteria is not a bad place to start!), Donato directed a handful of shorts. His two most recent efforts, "My Mother’s Love" (2005) and "Togetherness" (2006), screened at Cannes.

The idea for "Brotherhood" came to Donato as he was watching the German documentary "Men, Heroes and Gay Nazis" by Rosa von Praunheim.

“You can disagree with people about their opinions, but you can’t judge them by the colour of their skin,” he says. “It’s hard to love everybody, but I still think we should try. I know that sounds kind of hippy-dippy. But we should respect one another. If you have a disagreement, either they walk away or you walk away. Violence is taboo. It’s a sign of low intelligence. I feel sorry for radical right wings. Resorting to violence is a sign of disenfranchisement. They have tried and failed to solve their problems in other ways, and they feel powerless. That’s when people turn to violence.”

Thure Lindhardt og Daniel Dencik i Brotherhood foto Clinton Gaughran

Thure Lindhardt and Daniel Dencik as Lars and Jimmy in "Brotherhood" Photo: Clinton Gaughran

SUPPORTED BY NEW PILOT FUND

Donato was fascinated by the paradox of homosexuals in radical right-wing environments and saw a good story in it. He presented the idea to Lindhardt who liked it. Then Donato contacted another actor, Morten Holst, and his father, the producer Per Holst, and they were interested in the project, too. The screenwriter Rasmus Birch developed the screenplay with Donato, and the project was supported by the Danish Film Institute’s RÅFILM fund, which is aimed at features with budgets below 10 million kroner (1.34 million euros). Finally, David Dencik and Nicolas Bro came aboard and "Brotherhood" became a reality.

“I always strive to work with people who are better than I am, so I can learn from them,” Donato says. “I think it’s incredibly important to have respect for the film medium. Loving it and respecting it, while provoking it and breaking the rules, instead of just going by the book. The cinematic language doesn’t change itself”.

Instruktør Nicolo Donato photo Dan HustedDirector Nicolo Donato photo: Dan Husted

Facts

NICOLO DONATO

Born 1974, Denmark of Italian descent. Trained at various schools, including Testrup Musik Højskole, two schools of photography, and the National Film School of Denmark, the latter included a master class with William Esper. Donato has worked on music videos, commercials, and has made several short films. His film "Togetherness" (2006) was screened at Cannes, and was nominated at Seoul International Film Festival for Best International Film. Brotherhood is Donato’s feature film debut.

ASTA FILM

Founded 2002 by producer Per Holst, whose credits include films by Lars von Trier, Nils Malmros and Bille August. Especially known for his production of Bille August’s Palme d’Or, Oscar and Golden Globe winner "Pelle the Conqueror" (1987). In 2007, Per Holst was nominated for CARTOO N’s Producer of the Year in connection with Asta Film’s production of "Amazon Jack 3 – Jungo Goes Bananas". Also to his credit are two Swedish Academy Award nominated films "Evil" (2003) and "All Things Fair" (1995), the latter also received the Silver Bear in Berlin. Holst’s company Per Holst Film produced the UNICEF Berlin awardwinner "The Hideaway" (Nils Gråbøl, Denmark, 1991), and "Sirup" (Helle Ryslinge, Denmark, 1990), which received the Silver Lion in Venice in 1990. His earlier films were produced through the companies: Petra Film, Fiasco Film, Per Holst Filmproduktion and Per Holst Film. In later years he has held production credits on a number of productions for Nordisk Film and A. Film. Asta Film’s most recent credit is "Max Embarrassing" (Lotte Svendsen, 2008), which received a Special Mention in Berlin, 2009.

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