“A love story,” Nicolo Donato stresses. “Above all, it’s a love story.”
"I feel sorry for radical right wings. Resorting to violence is a sign of disenfranchise-ment."
That it is, even if the setup is untraditional. "Brotherhood" is violent, affectionate, a surprising story about a secret love affair between two young men in a radical group. In a muted, at times raw realistic style, using an inquisitive, hand-held camera, Donato paints a picture of the irrational nature of love.
The two leads are played by Thure Lindhardt, who was Flame in "Flame & Citron" (2008), and David Dencik, who broke through in "A Soap" (2006). Lindhardt and Dencik radiate tension in a volatile blend of strength and vulnerability, reflecting their inner conflicts and contradictions.
Laconic and unambiguously masculine, the two men do their best to hide the feelings that threaten to turn their world upside down. Dropping out of amilitary career, Lars (Thure Lindhardt) is attracted to the brotherhood of a small, radical group, more in rebellion against his domineering mother than for ideological reasons. The group’s leader sees potential in Lars, even as his right-hand man Jimmy (David Dencik) remains sceptical. Jimmy would rather have his younger brother Patrick (Morten Holst) join the group.
When Jimmy and Lars are sent to stay at the group leader’s summerhouse while they fix it up, the vibe between the two silent men soon becomes too strong to ignore. Deeply torn between their feelings for each other and the ideology they cultivate, they start an affair. Eventually, Lars gets fed up with worshipping the Fatherland and creeping around at night bashing Muslims, and when it dawns on him that the group also assaults homosexuals, he ants out. Meanwhile, Jimmy is caught in a painfuldilemma. No matter what he does, he will let down his younger brother, his ideology and his buddies – or Lars and himself. As he well knows, the price of disloyalty to the group is severe. Identity conflicts flare up as the film pits the different brotherhoods against each other.
NETWORKING IN ZENTROPA’S CAFETERIA
"Brotherhood" is the directorial debut of Danish-Italian Nicolo Donato, 34, a former internationally acclaimed fashion photographer who seven years ago decided he had had enough of fashion. He wanted to make films, at any cost.
To pay the bills, he worked in restaurants – at one point he worked in the cafeteria at Zentropa – while taking instruction from filmmakers including Asger Leth and closely studying loads of films by his role models Lars von Trier, Wong Kar Wai, Jørgen Leth, Gus van Sant, Jim Jarmusch and others. Building a network in the film industry (Zentropa’s cafeteria is not a bad place to start!), Donato directed a handful of shorts. His two most recent efforts, "My Mother’s Love" (2005) and "Togetherness" (2006), screened at Cannes.
The idea for "Brotherhood" came to Donato as he was watching the German documentary "Men, Heroes and Gay Nazis" by Rosa von Praunheim.
“You can disagree with people about their opinions, but you can’t judge them by the colour of their skin,” he says. “It’s hard to love everybody, but I still think we should try. I know that sounds kind of hippy-dippy. But we should respect one another. If you have a disagreement, either they walk away or you walk away. Violence is taboo. It’s a sign of low intelligence. I feel sorry for radical right wings. Resorting to violence is a sign of disenfranchisement. They have tried and failed to solve their problems in other ways, and they feel powerless. That’s when people turn to violence.”
Thure Lindhardt and Daniel Dencik as Lars and Jimmy in "Brotherhood" Photo: Clinton Gaughran
SUPPORTED BY NEW PILOT FUND
Donato was fascinated by the paradox of homosexuals in radical right-wing environments and saw a good story in it. He presented the idea to Lindhardt who liked it. Then Donato contacted another actor, Morten Holst, and his father, the producer Per Holst, and they were interested in the project, too. The screenwriter Rasmus Birch developed the screenplay with Donato, and the project was supported by the Danish Film Institute’s RÅFILM fund, which is aimed at features with budgets below 10 million kroner (1.34 million euros). Finally, David Dencik and Nicolas Bro came aboard and "Brotherhood" became a reality.
“I always strive to work with people who are better than I am, so I can learn from them,” Donato says. “I think it’s incredibly important to have respect for the film medium. Loving it and respecting it, while provoking it and breaking the rules, instead of just going by the book. The cinematic language doesn’t change itself”.