Following a string of successful documentaries, Anders Høgsbro Østergaard plunged into deep water with a film about video activism in Burma. Initially conceived as a small story about personal engagement and courage, the project switched gear after the rebellion of Burmese monks in 2007, expanding into a human drama with a strong vein of high-risk journalism. The title of the film is "Burma VJ – Reporting from a Closed Country".
Janus Billeskov Jansen has done a bit of everything in his long career as a film editor. Even so, "Burma VJ – Reporting from a Closed Country" was a challenge out of the ordinary, not least owing to the jumble of footage shot by anonymous video reporters in isolated Burma.
The network of independent video reporters operating in Burma today, coordinated by, among others, the Democratic Voice of Burma, is far from unique. The phenomenon of video activism has been around almost as long as portable video equipment itself.
The films take us to a windblown corner of North Jutland, where 575 Thai women live with their Danish husbands. Fifteen years ago there was only Sommai, a former sex worker from Pattaya. Opening with Sommai, the two films describe a network of strong, resolute Thai women who, through their marriages in Denmark, provide for themselves and an entire village in Thailand. Underlying Janus Metz’ documentaries, "Love on Delivery" and "Ticket to Paradise", is a focus on globalisation, poverty, prostitution and the universal need for security and love. Allan Berg Nielsen’s reflects on these two works, selected for IDFA.
In his final year of television at the National Film School of Denmark, Andreas Koefoed has already two films selected for IDFA. "12 Notes Down", partly biographical, is about a gifted choir boy whose voice is about to break. A "Day in the Smoke" is a film depicting a bar in downtown Cairo, where men of all social classes, young and old, meet and talk about money, politics and women. Although thematically very different, the language of both films appears to have a confident style and thoroughness.
Among today’s most sympathetic spokesperson for young Danes is Anders Gustafsson, Swedish filmmaker whose documentary, co-written and directed with Patrick Book, "Little Miss Grown-Up", underscores the observation that not all young people grow up in ideal conditions.
Nanna Frank Møller’s "Let’s Be Together" is an identity story about a boy grappling for a foothold between genders and nationalities.
In "Saving Saddam", Bill Wiley, a Canadian lawyer, wants to abolish the death penalty. The film is produced by Mette Heide and Michael Christoffersen for Team Productions, the company that produced Milosevic on Trial, about The Hague Tribunal.
"My Iranian Paradise" is a personal film about Iranian history and Persian culture by a Danish filmmaker who spent most of her childhood and youth in Tehran. Annette Mari Olsen relates the grand narrative through small stories, as always in close collaboration with co-director Katia Forbert Petersen. The two have teamed up in Danish documentaries for more than 20 years around a shared ambition to promote understanding and build bridges between cultures.
After his high-octane "Vesterbro" (2007), Michael Noer figured he’d done enough films about teenagers drinking and acting out, at least for a while. Then his production manager told him about a gang of reckless yet sensitive, moped-riding kids from Odense. In all ways transgressive, "The Wild Hearts" is American Graffiti meets "Jackass" in the road movie format.
For Adam Nielsen, the main thing in editing "The Wild Hearts" was staying true to the spirit of the material – even if it meant killing a few of his and director Michael Noer’s darlings in the process.
This chant was heard across the land in the 1980s, a decade when the Danish national football team played better than ever before. A new documentary, "Danish Dynamite", is an enthusiastic and engaging report from the football fest that culminated in Denmark taking the 1992 European Championship. FILM talks to the directors and editor about how Danish mentality and the national spirit are portrayed in the film.
Ulrik Wivel spent eight years gathering footage for his film about the Roskilde music festival, a fourday frenzy where, the director says, “It’s hard not to experience ecstasy.”
In spring 2007, Jagtvej 69 street signs like the above were pasted all over Copenhagen, not just at the actual address in Nørrebro, as sly winks to the abounding confusion. Meanwhile, you could be sure to see the number ‘69’ graffitied on walls in cities all across Europe. Everyone was talking about ‘Ungdomshuset’ that spring. For 25 years, the ‘Youth House’ at Jagtvej 69 had served as a refuge for self-governing groups of young people.
Study after study reports Danes the world’s happiest people and Denmark the world’s best country to live in. It’s sometimes tempting to think of our cosy Scandinavian nook as ‘paradise on earth’. Three Danish filmmakers got an itch to scuff up that image a little.