"It takes courage and audacity of a special kind to walk right into the mouth of the lion and calmly begin to inspect the predator's teeth."
Mads Brügger was honoured Friday with the Dreyer Award, named after Danish cinema's most distinguished classic figure, Carl Theodor Dreyer. The award which is presented every year on Dreyer's birthday celebrates outstanding artistic achievement among, primarily, young filmmakers.
"Graham Greene meets Borat"
Mads Brügger received the award for his two films "The Red Chapel" and "The Ambassador", the latter premiering at the IDFA fest last year.
"Both films are documentary films which have, nevertheless, a rather mischievous understanding of reality," associate professor Peter Schepelern said on behalf of the jury, naming Brügger's films "truthful lies that challenge our sense of both reality and illusion."
Since 1992 the Dreyer Award has been assigned to "young filmmakers or film professionals who have distinguished themselves within Danish cinema". The award includes a cash prize and is presented annually by the Carl Theodor Dreyer Foundation, whose members count Lene Halvor Petersen (Head of DFI Archive and Cinematheque), Peter Schepelern (Associate Professor, Copenhagen University) and lawyer Allan Falk.
Recipients previous years
Susanne Bier, Birger Larsen, Janus Billeskov-Jansen, Niels Vørsel, Lars von Trier, Bo hr. Hansen, Jonas Elmer, Thomas Vinterberg & Chr. Braad Thomsen, Lotte Svendsen & Nicolas Winding Refn, Lone Scherfig & Per Fly , Ole Chr. Madsen & Åke Sandgreen, Annette K. Olesen & Jesper W. Nielsen, Christoffer Boe, Max Kestner, Dagur Kári, Niels Arden Oplev, Morten Hartz Kaplers, Henrik Ruben Genz, Nils Malmros, and Tobias Lindholm & Michael Noer.
"It's like Graham Greene meeting Borat by a stroke of bad luck right there in the middle of the heart of darkness," Schepelern continued about "The Ambassador". "Obviously it's important to challenge power at its most gruesome and inhumane. Obviously, it also takes courage and audacity of a special kind to walk right into the mouth of the lion and calmly begin to inspect the predator's teeth."
"But the films are not only exceptional as sophisiticated practical jokes. They are also works of art that challenge and move in the midst of their deadly irony."
Peter Schepelern concluded his speech with a final word of advice: "Mads, keep on lying! For, as Dostoyevsky has said in 'Crime and Punishment', 'a lie can be beneficial because it can pave the way to the truth.'"
About Mads Brügger
As a journalist at the national broadcaster DR, Mads Brügger (b. 1972) has created off-beat talk shows and satirical docu series such as "The Red Chapel", which he made into a feature in 2009 that won him the World Cinema Jury Prize in Sundance.
"The Red Chapel" is about Brügger and two stand-up comedians who travel to North Korea under the guise of a communist theatre troup. In "The Ambassador" Brügger is a diplomat-cum-documentarian in the Central African Republic uncovering murky games in higher circles. The film was the opening film at IDFA.
The Dreyer Award was presented on 3 February at the DFI Cinematheque in Copenhagen.