Danish films in Sundance

SUNDANCE. No less than four Danish films and one co-production are off to Sundance, starting on Thursday the 19 January. These are "Teddy Bear", "The Ambassador", "Putin's Kiss", "1/2 Revolution" and "The Queen of Versailles".

The three documentaries "The Ambassador", "Putin's Kiss", "1/2 Revolution" and the feature film "Teddy Bear" are participating in the upcoming edition of the Sundance Film Festival running 19-29 January.

Male identity in Teddy Bear

Mads Matthiesen's feature debut "Teddy Bear" is one of 14 films to compete in the World Cinema Dramatic Competition and will be celebrating its world premiere at the festival. Matthiesen, who had his short film "Dennis" selected for the festival in 2008, is exploring the same theme of male identity from his short.

Dennis is a Hercules. 140 kg of buff muscle. But his looks are deceiving. Inside this massive body hides a little boy who still lives at home with his pint-sized mother who has driven every ounce of machismo and confidence out of him. Verging on desperation, the giant goes to Thailand to try his luck with one of the many petite girls in Asia's candy land.

Danish champion bodybuilder Kim Kold, who has never acted, lends his body to the character of Dennis. And most of the actors in the film, such as the bar girls in Thailand, are non-actors, casted in the local environment and shot on location.

"'Real people' on 'real sets' were used to create a credible world, to get as close to the 'truth' of the characters. Working mostly with amateurs was a big challenge, but also a gift. You get a great deal of authenticity when you work with real people in real environments," says director Mads Matthiesen, who is thrilled to be back at Sundance:

"It somehow all began at Sundance four years ago with "Dennis", and I'm very pleased to come back to show 'Teddy Bear'. Having the film selected for Sundance has been a dream from the start of the production. Sundance is an inspiring festival, which I'm excited to be part of. And I hope that the film will come out to as many people as possible," Matthiesen says.

Read Daily Herald's mention of the film at Sundance
Read IndieWire's profile of Mads Matthiesen
Read interview with Mads Matthiesen in FILM#72

International sales are handled by Visit Films.

Hot topics in three documentaries

One fourth of the films in the World Cinema Documentary Competition are from Denmark. This makes the festival a privileged international showcase for Danish documentaries, represented by three filmmakers' take on global issues:

"1/2 Revolution" is Omar Shargawi's eyewitness account of the Arab Spring in Cairo. He and his co-director Karim El Hakim were preparing a film about street kids when they were caught in the midst of the Egyptian revolution in February. International sales are handled by LevelK.

Read IndieWire's profile of Karim El Hakim and Omar Shargawi 
Read DFI's interview with Omar Shargawi

"Putin's Kiss", already making an impression on critics and audiences at IDFA last year, feeds on Lise Birk Pedersen's fascination with modern Russia. In her film she follows Masha, an attractive and successful representative of the political youth movement Nashi, who comes to doubt the true ideals of the movement. International sales are handled by DR International sales.

Read IndieWire's profile of Lise Birk Pedersen
Read interview with Lise Birk Pedersen in FILM#73

Mads Brügger's "The Ambassador", which has already made noise internationally and was on show at IDFA, takes us to the Central African Republic with Brügger as our tour guide on an exploration of the shady dealings of diplomacy. In 2010, Brügger won the World Cinema Jury Prize for "The Red Chapel". International sales are handled by TrustNordisk.

Read interview with Mads Brügger in FILM#72 

Finally, the American-Danish co-production "The Queen of Versailles" by Lauren Greenfield is selected for the U.S. Documentary competition and is one of the opening night films. Read Sundance's presentation of the film

Sundance Film Festival 19-29 January 2012