The Promised Land wins three European Film Awards

HONOUR. Nikolaj Arcel's 'The Promised Land' won three awards at Europe's answer to the Oscars on Saturday: Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design and Best Actor for Mads Mikkelsen.

Rasmus Videbæk won the award for Best Cinematography for his work on 'The Promised Land'. Photo: European Film Academy.
Kicki Ilander won trhe award for Best Costume Design for her work on 'The Promised Land'. Photo: European Film Academy.

While 'Apolonia, Apolonia' and 'The Quiet Migration' missed out in the documentary and debut film categories respectively, Nikolaj Arcel's historical drama triumphed at the European Film Awards which was held at Arena Berlin on Saturday night. Here, Danish film's global superstar Mads Mikkelsen took home the award for Best European Actor for his role as Ludvig Kahlen.

'The Promised Land' also received two technical prizes, the so-called Excellence Awards, which had been announced in advance but were officially presented at the awards ceremony on Saturday night. Rasmus Videbæk won for Best Cinematography, while Kicki Ilander won for Best Costume Design. The big winner of the night was Justine Triet's Palme d'Or winner 'Anatomy of a Fall', which took home six awards, including Best Film and Best Director.

An international superstar

Mads Mikkelsen, who attended the award ceremony via a video link from Tokyo, won the award ahead of Thomas Schubert ('Afire'), Jussi Vatanen ('Fallen Leaves'), Josh O'Connor ('La Chimera') and Christian Friedel ('The Zone of Interest').

International critics have praised Mikkelsen's role as Ludvig Kahlen in 'The Promised Land'. The Wrap described the film as "is a handsome, bold two-hour tribute to the power of Mads, both the indominable character he plays and the presence he brings to the screen, while the LA Times wrote:

”It’s a particularly meaty role for Mikkelsen, who has combined the hallmarks of the ruthless antiheroes he’s played in Hollywood with qualities from the more vulnerable leading men he’s played in Danish cinema to create one of his most compelling characters to date.”

This is Mikkelsen's second European Film Award, as he also won the Best Actor award in 2020 for his role in Thomas Vinterberg's later Oscar-winning 'Another Round'. Since his feature film debut in Nicolas Winding Refn's 'Pusher' in 1996, the 58-year-old actor has starred in a host of widely acclaimed Danish films and has collaborated several times with some of the most prominent domestic directors in recent years: Nicolas Winding Refn, Susanne Bier, Thomas Vinterberg, Nikolaj Arcel and Anders Thomas Jensen. 

At the same time, with his many roles in global franchises such as James Bond, Star Wars, Marvel, Fantastic Beasts and most recently Indiana Jones - as well as fronting Carlsberg - he has become an international superstar who successfully shuttles between artistically oriented films in Denmark and global blockbusters abroad.

The Promised Land

'The Promised Land' by Nikolaj Arcel is set in 1755. The impoverished Captain Ludvig Kahlen sets out to conquer the harsh, uninhabitable Danish heath with a seemingly impossible goal: to build a colony in the name of the King. In exchange, he'll receive a desperately desired Royal name for himself. But the sole ruler of the area, the merciless Frederik de Schinkel, arrogantly believes this land belongs to him. 

‘The Promised Land’ finds Director Nikolaj Arcel reunited with lead actor Mads Mikkelsen who also played the lead role in 'A Royal Affair'. The film received an Oscar nomination in the “Foreign Language” (now known as “International Feature Film”) category in 2013.

At the recent World premiere in Competition at the Venice Film Festival, the film was well recieved by international critics who especially praised Mads Mikkelsen's performance and the film's epic scope. Variety highlighted Arcel's "sturdy, old-school feel for grand-scale period filmmaking" and the Hollywood Reporter called the film "a terrific story driven by skillful writing and strong performances" and further noted that "there's an art to bringing vitatity and modernity to historical drama, and Arcel shows a firm grasp of it".

In addition to Venice, 'The Promised Land' has participated in several prominent festivals including Telluride, Toronto and San Sebastian. The film is produced by Louise Vesth for Zentropa and has received financial backing from the Danish Film Institute.

About European Film Awards

The annual prize event is organized by the European Film Academy, founded in 1988 with the purpose to encourage Europe's film culture.

Today, the Academy comprises more than 4,400 members from the European film community. In addition to the European Film Awards, the academy initiates seminars and workshops focusing on film topics within policymaking, economy, art and education. Find the full list of previous Danish award winners.