Unveiling the nominees for the Oscars 2016, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced two Danish-produced films as part of the prominent list of films making it to the red carpet on Oscar night on 28 February.
Tobias Lindholm and Nordisk Film's "A War" is one of the five nominated films vying for Best Foreign Language Film 2016, while Joshua Oppenheimer and Final Cut for Real's "The Look of Silence" is nominated in the Documentary Feature category.
"Congratulations to the teams behind these two impressive films. Today's nominations of 'A War' and 'The Look of Silence" confirm that films made in Denmark have quality and tell stories that engage not only ourselves, but also audiences around the world, "says Henrik Bo Nielsen, CEO of the Danish Film Institute.
'A War' was shown some days ago at the film festival in Palm Springs, and on this occasion the LA Times gave its readers an introduction to the film. The writer pointed to the ancient Greek tales which understood well that war is fought by noble soldiers who have to make choices that challenge their perception of themselves and their understanding of right and wrong, and that these are choices that stick, all the way from the battlefield to their lives back home. Tobias Lindholm's 'A War' is a complex tale of that kind.
'The Look of Silence' deserves immensely to go all the way to the Oscars. In the same way as 'A War' the film affects us and teaches us about the world. The film is a reminder that it is never too late to face injustice, although one might be tempted to try to block it out.
We live in a hugely complex time where many find it difficult to make sense of the madness. Films like these help us understand not only the world but also ourselves."
"A War," which world premiered at the Venice Film Festival and screened in Palm Springs in the beginning of January, investigates the human burden of war. The story follows a well-liked company commander, Claus Michael Pedersen, who is stationed in Afghanistan. Back in Denmark, his wife Maria is juggling everyday life with three children missing their dad. During heavy combat, Claus makes a faulty, split-second decision and is consequently ordered home, put on trial for war crimes.
Read interview with Tobias Lindholm Consequences of War
Playing the lead as the commander is Pilou Asbæk who has garnered warm praise for his "emotionally honest and raw performance, which never even remotely becomes histrionic" (Hollywood Reporter). A leading name in Danish television and film, Asbæk was also Lindholm's preferred actor in his two earlier feature films, "R" (co-directed with Michael Noer, 2010) and "A Hijacking" (2012).
Lindholm was previously on Oscar terrain as Thomas Vinterberg's co-scripter on "The Hunt," which was nominated for an Academy Award in 2014. He also wrote for the political TV series "Borgen" (2010-13) and Thomas Vinterberg's new drama "The Commune" based on the Vinterberg's memories of communal living, which has been selected for the main competition at Berlin Film Festival starting in February. Among future projects is the Berlin Wall drama "The Tunnels" which Lindholm is set to script for Paul Greengrass.
"A War" is written by Lindholm and produced by Tomas Radoor and René Ezra for Nordisk Film. Studiocanal is handling international sales.
The Look of Silence
Joshua Oppenheimer's acclaimed companion piece to 2012's "The Act of Killing" has garnered a number of distinguished awards during the Awards Season leading up to this year's Oscar celebration. On Wednesday 13 January, "The Look of Silence" was top film in three categories at the Cinema Eye Honors in New York. In November and December, the film was named best documentary at the Gotham Awards and the IDA Awards, respectively. The film world premiered at the Venice Film Festival in 2014, where it won the Grand Jury Prize.
"The Look of Silence" is Copenhagen-based Joshua Oppenheimer's second film getting behind the veil of secrecy and silent terror cast on Indonesian society by the 1965-66 genocide. This time, the viewpoint is that of the victims, as seen through the eyes of a young optometrist, Adi Rukun, who looks up the men who killed his brother. While testing their eyesight, he confronts them about their actions – in a society where the murderers remain in power.
Read interview with Joshua Oppenheimer Holding a Mirror to Horror
This marks the second time Joshua Oppenheimer and producer Signe Byrge Sørensen make it to the nominations list. In 2014, "The Act of Killing" also made it through to the final round.
"The Look of Silence" is produced by Signe Byrge Sørensen for Final Cut for Real. Sales agent is Israili-based Cinephil.
The 88th Oscars will be held on Sunday, 28 February, at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood. Go to oscars.com for all nominees.
Both films have received funding from the Danish Film Institute. See more in factsheets right.
10 Years of Oscar
Over the past six years in the Foreign Language Film category, Danish films have received five Oscar shortlistings, four nominations and one Oscar. Here is an overview of the last ten years of Danish Oscar films (by awards ceremony year):
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
2009 Worlds Apart / Niels Arden Oplev
2008 The Art of Crying / Peter Schønau Fog
2007 After the Wedding / Susanne Bier / Oscar nomination
2006 Adam's Apples / Anders Thomas Jensen
See full list of Danish Oscar films