The Danish Oscar committee, made up of representatives from the film industry and the Danish Film Institute, announced Tuesday their choice of May el-Toukhy's 'Queen of Hearts' as Denmark's contender in the International Feature Film category at the 2020 Academy Awards.
'Queen of Hearts' was selected from a shortlist of three films, which also included 'Before the Frost' by Michael Noer and 'Daniel' by Niels Arden Oplev and Anders W. Berthelsen.
Claus Ladegaard, CEO of the Danish Film Institute who chairs the committee, says:
"A story of power, passion and denial, 'Queen of Hearts' offers a startling new perspective on current discussions. With a superior grasp of cinematic language, director May el-Toukhy and screenwriter Maren Louise Käehne have created an uncompromising, engaging drama resonating with international audiences and critics alike, as evidenced by the film winning the coveted Audience Award at Sundance.
"A large share of the credit goes to Trine Dyrholm for her stellar performance – a compelling example of a complex female character we would love to see a lot more of on the big screen."
About Queen of Hearts
'Queen of Hearts' tells the story of Anne, a dedicated lawyer who lives what appears to be the picture-perfect life with her husband, Peter, and their twin daughters. When her estranged teenage stepson, Gustav, moves in with them, Anne's escalating desire leads her down a dangerous rabbit hole, jeopardizing both her career and family.
The drama met with a warm reception at its Sundance world premiere in January:
"An intriguing, smartly sustained drama in which we learn to be wary of those who claim the moral high ground," Screen wrote.
"May el-Toukhy maintains an impressive grip on the tone of an insidious tale," according to The Hollywood Reporter, adding that "this is Dyrholm's show and she gives it her all, emotionally and physically, delivering a full account of a woman who does whatever she wants because she believes she can get away with it."
'Queen of Hearts' was awarded the Audience Award at Sundance and also picked up three awards at the Göteborg Film Festival, including the top prize for Best Nordic Film, Best Acting and the Audience Award. The drama is nominated for the Nordic Council Film Prize, handed out on 29 October in Stockholm, and is longlisted for a nomination for the European Film Awards 2019, held on 7 December in Berlin.
Opening in Denmark on 28 March, the film was received enthusiastically by the press which signed off five- and, mostly, six-star reviews. Trustnordisk handles international sales, and US distribution is backed by Breaking Glass Pictures.
Maren Louise Käehne wrote the script in collaboration with May el-Toukhy. Caroline Blanco and René Ezra produced for Nordic Film with support from the Danish Film Institute. Ezra also produced Tobias Lindholm's Oscar-nominated 'A War'.
About May el-Toukhy
May el-Toukhy (b. 1977) graduated from the Danish National School of Performing Arts in 2002 and, as a director, from the National Film School of Denmark in 2009.
She debuted as a feature film director with 'Long Story Short' (2015), which she co-wrote with Maren Louise Käehne. The film won a Bodil for best script and for best actress as well as a Robert for best supporting actress.
'Queen of Hearts', May el-Toukhy's second feature film, is the result of yet another collaboration between the director, scriptwriter Maren Louise Käehne and producer Caroline Blanco, who met while at film school.
May el-Toukhy has also directed radio drama and episodes of the TV series 'The Legacy' and 'Ride Upon the Storm'.
Danish Oscar Committee
The Danish Oscar committee is set up by the Danish Film Institute and national film industry organisations.
The Committee consists of chairman Claus Ladegaard (CEO, Danish Film Institute), Tivi Magnusson (Danish Producers), Anders Refn (Danish Directors), Jan Weincke (Danish Cinematographers), Nanna Frank Rasmussen (Danish Film Critics), Mette Schramm (Danish Cinemas) and Marianne Moritzen (Head of Fiction, Danish Film Institute).
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will announce a shortlist of ten films in the International Feature Film category in December.
The five films to receive a nomination will be revealed on 13 January, with the winners announced on Oscar Night on 9 February.
Ten years of Danish films and the Oscars
Below is an overview of the last ten years of Danish Oscar entries in the Foreign Language category (now International Feature Film) by awards ceremony year:
2019 The Guilty / Gustav Möller / Oscar shortlist
2018 You Disappear / Peter Schønau Fog
2017 Land of Mine / Martin Zandvliet / Oscar nomination
2016 A War / Tobias Lindholm / Oscar nomination
2015 Sorrow and Joy / Nils Malmros
2014 The Hunt / Thomas Vinterberg / Oscar nomination
2013 A Royal Affair / Nikolaj Arcel / Oscar nomination
2012 Superclásico / Ole Christian Madsen / Oscar shortlist
2011 In a Better World / Susanne Bier / Oscar winner
2010 Terribly Happy / Henrik Ruben Genz
Over the past decades, Denmark has made its mark at the Academy Awards, not only with feature films, but also with short films and documentaries. See the Danish Film Institute's Oscar overview.