EDITORIAL. If you don't go to extremes, why even go? the Danish COBRA artist Asger Jorn once said. His words naturally spring to mind when looking at the current crop of Danish documentaries. They go to extremes. They have guts and they take chances – artistically, thematically and personally.
ESSAY. Of course Mads Brügger goes over the line. He stretches his long legs and purposefully takes several steps beyond the rules, both written and unwritten. "The Ambassador" isn't honourable reporting. It's morally reprehensible, deceitful even.
BRÜGGER'S METHOD. Undercover reporter, documentarian, writer, TV personality and newly minted radio station manager. In his multifaceted work, media trickster Mads Brügger is unabashedly pursuing a clear ambition: challenging traditional journalism and documentaries and revitalising the genres. And it's okay to have some fun along the way, too!
IN PERSPECTIVE. The Ambassador exposes a particularly dark side of global capitalism, says Thomas Gammeltoft-Hansen who has studied the game of diplomatic titles brokerage.
INTERVIEW. Lise Birk Pedersen's fascination with Russia grew as she discovered another side to the poverty-stricken reality that she already knew so well. "Putin's Kiss", selected for IDFA competition, portrays a generation of privileged youth in Putin's Russia who believe in the future but are caught in their leader's iron grip on the country.
IN PERSPECTIVE. Putin's Kiss offers a rare look at Nashi, the Russian youth movement that's even more interesting to examine now that its great icon, Vladimir Putin, is set to return as president of Russia.
INTERVIEW. For two years, co-directors Christian Bonke and Andreas Koefoed tracked former International Latin World Champion Slavik Kryklyvyy as he struggled to get back to the top. For the Ukrainian ballroom king, it's a battle not just against his rivals but also against his own inner demons. "Ballroom Dancer" is competing at IDFA.
INTERVIEW. Diving deep into the intimate life of its protagonist, "The Will" is a documentary with all the energy and presence of a narrative film. We watch a guy have sex, crash his car, be disowned by his father and much more. How far can a documentary go in terms of revealing the most intimate details of someone's life? Per Juul Carlsen put the question to "The Will's" director, Christian Sønderby Jepsen, who takes a long, hard think before answering.
INTERVIEW. After her success with "The Monastery", it was a challenge for Pernille Rose Grønkjær to start her next film. But a development grant from the Danish Film Institute allowed her to work in depth with her cinematic language and explore aesthetic strategies from the world of fiction to create a powerful story about a group of love addicts.
INTERVIEW. Making "The Kid and the Clown", Ida Grøn was tiptoeing through an ethical minefield. In her documentary about a hospital clown
and Tobias, a boy with cancer, the director
was determined not to reduce her prota-gonists to vehicles for conveying her own message.
INTERVIEW. Director Morten Henriksen was just 10 years old when his father first involved him in his close personal relationship with the world-famous author Karen Blixen, also known by her pen name Isak Dinesen. "Karen Blixen – Behind Her Mask" is a dark, auto-therapeutic interview with the director's father, Aage Henriksen, a literature professor who suffered from life-long migraines after Blixen put her 'mark' on him.
IDFA FORUM 2011. In the summer of 2011 a group of artists and scientists travelling onboard the good ship Activ ventured into the fjord system in Northeast Greenland to explore one of the last virgin territories on Earth. On the passenger list was a film crew led by directors Janus Metz and Daniel Dencik and producer Michael Haslund-Christensen who chronicle the voyage in their new film "The Expedition to the End of the World".
IDFA FORUM 2011. Is it possible for an Iranian girl to become an astronaut? In "Break of Dawn", Berit Madsen follows 16-year-old Sepideh's struggle to break away from traditions in order to pursue her dreams.
IDFA FORUM 2011. "A cosmic documentary comedy" is the tagline for Michael Madsen's next big film project "The Visit" which takes a close look at how we humans would react if – or when – we are approached by intelligent life from outer space. According to the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs the very first step in an alien emergency plan would be, quite simply, a phone call: "They have arrived."
IDFA FORUM 2011. For many Western childless parents adoption is a win-win situation. Unfortunate orphans are provided with parents and the childless are blessed with children. But behind the dream lies anoher reality. In "Mercy Mercy", Katrine Kjær shows the flip side of international adoption.
VIEWING A TREND. There is currently a strong trend of mixing the methods and vocabulary of fiction and documentary films. The Nordic Film & TV Fund recently invited the commissioning editors of the Nordic film institutes to a seminar in Copenhagen on hybrid film. Jakob Høgel, artistic director of New Danish Screen, spoke on his view of the trend, emphasising that hybrid films act as a necessary, living laboratory for what films can be and should be.
ONE TO WATCH. With an open mind and a camera under his arm, the self-taught, adventure-loving filmmaker Andreas Johnsen documents human lives around the globe.
ONE TO WATCH. Parochial fiction meets new journalism
in self-taught director Christoffer Dreyer's blend of film noir, thriller, comedy and documentary reportage in his second film, "The Detective".
INTERVIEW. Your dignity. Your beauty. Think about those
two words when you're on stage tonight, Antony gently encourages the transsexual performers in the show "Turning", as they prepare to go on stage, in London. The scene
is from the upcoming music documentary of the same name. New York-based film-maker Charles Atlas and Swedish-Danish editor Åsa Mossberg are showing us cuts from the film in a tiny editing suite at Bullitt Film in Copenhagen.
DOX:LAB, which kicked off in 2009, is a CPH: DOX initiative to stimulate talent development across all borders and cultures with the overall goal of evolving the documentary film genre. While its focus is mainly on creative encounters and processes, the project has produced several highly watchable films.
INTERNATIONAL DOC PROJECT. Why, in the 21st century, do a billion people still live in poverty? To answer that question, the "Why Poverty" project has enlisted some of the world's best documentary filmmakers to produce 8 one-hour documentaries and 30 short documentaries intended to stimulate global discussion.
INTERNATIONAL DOC PROJECT. Mette Heide is producer of "Solar Mamas", one of the eight documentaries in "Why Poverty?", a project that speaks about global poverty through human stories. The experienced producer warmly welcomes the opportunity to work with an international team of film-makers which includes Arab-American co-directors Jehane Noujaim and Mona Eldaief.
ONE TO WATCH. Kaspar Astrup Schröder has had two films shown at IDFA, "My Playground" and "The Invention of Dr Nakamats". Both reflect a few truths about their creator: Schröder has the explosive energy of a parkour runner and the creative ingenuity of the Japanese patent holder Dr Nakamats. Meet a multi-talent who is finishing a new film from Japan and whose work ethic seems to be: Just go ahead and do it!
INTERVIEW. There is a common thread in
all of Helle Hansen's work. The Danish Film Institute's new commissioner for documentaries has years of experience as a journalist and filmmaker. A driving force in every job she ever
held, paid or unpaid, has been to give a voice to those who have a hard time being heard.