Documentary dandy

IDFA EXHIBITION. He is a cycling enthusiast, poet, journalist, writer and he has directed an abundance of documentaries. He insists on the beauty in life and is obsessed with reality, which he views with a sense of profound anthropological wonder. His name is Jørgen Leth. Keep an eye on the Danish filmmaker in Amsterdam, where a selection of his work is screening in an exhibition from 15 November. Leth is also serving as member of the festival jury.

In spring 2012, a large crew with 17 cameras was on the spot for the world's toughest one-day bike race, the Paris-Roubaix challenge in France. The crew was led by Brendt Barbur, creator of the New York Bicycle Film Festival, and legendary documentarian Albert Maysles, who were shooting a crowd-funded project called "The Commentator". The film will follow Jørgen Leth as he comments on the gruelling race, thereby tracing the story back to Leth's pioneering 1977 documentary classic, "A Sunday in Hell".

What is the attraction?

Jørgen Leth, who turned 75 this summer, continues to draw new audiences and inspire new generations of filmmakers. His latest film "Erotic Man" came out in 2010, and since the early 1960s he has directed over 40 films, written a shelf full of poetry, essays, non-fiction books, plus radio and television drama, and he has been a popular cycling commentator on Danish television for two decades.


Films by Jørgen Leth
/ A selection

Erotic Man / 2010
Aarhus / 2005
The Five Obstructions / 2003
Dreamers / 2002
New Scenes from America / 2002
Haïti. Untitled / 1996
Michael Laudrup – A Football Player / 1993
Traberg (fiction) / 1992
Notes on Love / 1989
Notebook from China / 1987
Moments of Play / 1986
Haïti Express (fiction) / 1983
66 scenes from America / 1982
A Sunday in Hell / 1977
Stars and Watercarriers / 1974
Life in Denmark / 1972
The Perfect Human / 1968

About the exhibition

"My Name Is Jørgen Leth" is part of the festival's larger documentary art and storytelling programme. Presented in collaboration with De Brakke Grond Arts Centre.

"My Name Is Jørgen Leth" is a condensed version of an exhibition held at Kunstforeningen GL STRAND in Copenhagen over the summer, based on a concept by Michael Thouber.

Dates: 15-25 November
Venue: De Brakke Grond /

See eight films on

Doc Alliance Films presents a selection of Jørgen Leth films on the occasion of the exhibition, including "A Sunday in Hell", "The Perfect Human" and six other iconic titles spanning four decades. Viewing is free until 25 November.

See the films: 

So, what is the attraction of Leth? Is it the sense of timelessness radiating from his lifelong poetic investigations into the nature of sports, art, sensuality, women or life in general? Is it his dandyish attitude and his love of surfaces, which to him hold great meaning? Is it his dynamic creativity and uncompromising honesty?

Exhibition with films and poetry readings

Now audiences in Amsterdam will have a chance to decide for themselves. "My Name Is Jørgen Leth", a retrospective exhibition held during the IDFA festival, gives audiences an opportunity to experience the breadth of Leth's artistic practice and his lifelong engagement in various art disciplines.

Leth's classic "A Sunday in Hell" is among the films showcased in the exhibition which features a cross-section of the filmmaker's cinematic work. The film programme also features "Haïti. Untitled", "66 Scenes from America", "The Perfect Human", "The Five Obstructions" and "Life in Denmark", projected in the exhibition space in a continuous loop. As a special event during the exhibition, Leth will be reciting a selection of his poems to a live audience.

In addition, Leth is serving as a member of this year's official IDFA festival jury.

Livet-i-DanmarkLIFE IN DENMARK / 1972
A legendary film by Jørgen Leth, where the director presents an idiosyncratic catalogue of life in Denmark. A number of Danes are invited into a black space to make small, edited versions of their own personal or professional lives. We meet a number of unmarried women from a country town, a farmer, a traffic cop, a singing boy, Leth's own family – and among the more absurd elements these four naked poets taking up position in the empty space. Foto: Vibeke Winding