In 2009 Danish films again attracted considerable attention at international festivals and award ceremonies. Scores of international film festivals selected Danish films for their programmes. In all, Danish films brought home an impressive 118 awards and honours. See the overview.
Anders Østergaard's documentary, now Oscar nominee, "Burma VJ" opened the festival year at Sundance, winning the first of its now more than 40 awards. Shortly after, the film also took home an award in Berlin, where Annette K. Olesen's "Little Soldier" featured in the main competition and Lotte Svendsen received a Special Mention for "Max Embarrassing."
Meanwhile, Heidi Maria Faisst's first feature, "The Blessing" featured in the main programme at the International Film Festival in Rotterdam, an important stop on the international festival calendar.
Lars von Trier's "Antichrist", selected for competition in Cannes, won Best Actress Award for Charlotte Gainsbourg. Also chosen for sections at Europe's most high profile festival were Daniel Borgman's "Lars and Peter", in the Cannes Short Film Competition, Dorte Bengtson's "The Sylpphid", in Cinéfondation, and Ragnar Ragnarsson's "Anna", in Quinzaine des Réalisateurs.
Summer and autumn festivals
Three Danish films – "Antichrist," Martin Pieter Zandvliet's first feature "Applause" and Christian Sønderby Jepsen's documentary "Side by Side" – were selected for Karlovy Vary. "Applause" won two awards at the Czech festival – the Best Actress Award, for Paprika Steen, and the Europe Cinemas Label Award.
The Venice Film Festival, which rarely finds room for Nordic films, selected Nicolas Winding Refn's "Valhalla Rising" for the Midnight Screening section.
The Toronto International Film Festival – an audience festival and nonetheless important as a bridgehead to the North American market – screened an impressive five Danish films: "Antichrist," "Applause," "Valhalla Rising," Ole Bornedal's "Deliver Us From Evil" and Mogens Hagedorn's family film "Timetrip."
The Rome Film Festival invited Nicolo Donato's feature film debut "Brotherhood," starring Thure Lindhardt, David Dencik and Nicolas Bro, to run in its main competition. The film took home the festival's Best Film Award and another award to boot.
IDFA in Amsterdam, a world event for documentary films, selected 11 Danish films for their programmes, including Kaspar Astrup Schröder's "The Invention of Dr. Nakamats," Miki Mistrati & Nagieb Khaja's "Accidental Terrorist," Andreas Koefoed's "Albert's Winter" and Katrine Philp's "Book of Miri." The last three were nominated for major awards.
Apart from the above, Danish films were particularly well represented in Shanghai and Montreal, winning several prime awards.
International demand for Danish filmmakers and actors
As was evident already in Berlin, the Danish film industry is making a mark beyond domestic productions. Several international films on the programme featured Danish filmmakers or actors in central functions, a tendency that only became stronger as the year progressed. Actors who made a mark include Mads Mikkelsen, Thure Lindhardt, Nikolaj Lie Kaas, Ulrich Thomsen, Jesper Christensen and Nicolas Bro.
Lone Scherfig had an internationaland critical hit in 2009 with her British-produced "An Education," now Oscar nominee in three categories, while Nicolas Winding Refn made waves with his British production, "Bronson." Susanne Bier, who recently finished shooting her next Danish film, attracted serious attention with her American remake of her own "Brothers" and has several international projects in development.
Niels Arden Oplev was hired by a Danish producer for a Swedish company to lend his special touch to their adaptation of the "Millennium" trilogy. The Danish director called on the talents of other top Danish filmmakers to create the foundation for one of the year's biggest non-American hits on the international market.
Awards season and festivals of the final quarter 2009
Danish films and filmmakers stole the limelight on occasions at this winter's award galas.
Anthony Dod Mantle, who for 15 years has been a pioneering DP in Danish cinema, on 12 December won for Best Cinematography at the European Film Academy Awards for his work on Lars von Trier's "Antichrist" and Danny Boyle's "Slumdog Millionaire." Earlier in 2009, Dod Mantle was honoured with prestigious awards at the Oscars and BAFTA.
"Burma VJ" was short-listed for an Oscar for Best Documentary, now a nominee, while M&M Productions, for the tenth time, was short-listed for an Academy Award for Best Short Film. M&M's "The New Tenants", now also an Oscar nominee, is directed by Joachim Back, a Danish director working out of New York, and based on a screenplay by Anders Thomas Jensen.
A promising start to 2010
Seven films are selected for the Berlinale, two in the official competition and five films in Generation. This participation sees Thomas Vinterberg back in the limelight ("Submarino") and a return to Berlin for Pernille Fischer Christensen ("A Family") and Birger Larsen ("Super Brother").
The documentary "The Red Chapel", by Mads Brügger, swept up World Cinema Jury Prize at Sundance while the feature film debut "R", by Michael Noer and Tobias Lindholm, triumphantly brought home Göteborg's Dragon Award for Best Nordic Film and the FIPRESCI Award. And in Rotterdam, Birgitte Stærmose received the UIP Prize for her documentary "Out of Love", also selected for the Berlinale.
Ask the staff at the Danish Film Institute's festival department about the demand for their films in 2010 and there will be smiles.