Looking at the Danish contributions to this year’s Berlinale, that doesn’t seem to be the case. On the contrary. The Act of Killing, a shocking documentary about an Indonesian genocide, is directed by an American, Joshua Oppenheimer, who settled in Copenhagen when he found a skilled and persistent producer here to carry the complex task.
New Zealand-born Daniel Joseph Borgman attended the alternative Danish film school Super16 and his lyrical first feature, The Weight of Elephants, is a Danish-New Zealand co-production.
Killing Strangers was made in a collaboration between the Mexican filmmaker Nicolás Pereda and Jacob Schulsinger of Denmark after they were teamed up during the ambitious talent development programme DOX:LAB. Produced under tight conditions, the film radiates cross-continental energy and inspiration.
Meanwhile, Bille August, who has been working internationally for years, is in the main programme at Berlin with his new film, a German-Swiss-Portuguese production, Night Train to Lisbon.
Recently a group of prominent directors and producers joined forces in a creative alliance with the ambition to combine the best of Scandinavian film traditions and practices with the strength and scale of the film industry in the US to make films in English.
Add to that all the Danish filmmakers across the world who are making films and TV series and learning from a mutual exchange of methods and attitudes. Veteran directors like Susanne Bier, Lone Scherfig, Niels Arden Oplev, Ole Christian Madsen and others have successful international careers. Danish actors like Mads Mikkelsen, Thure Lindhardt and Ulrich Thomsen are carefully building theirs, as are younger directors like Nicolas Winding Refn, Nikolaj Arcel and Janus Metz. Not only that, but cinematographers, editors, sound designers and film technicians at all levels are also taking part in enriching global collaborations.
It might be too early to declare jingoism dead, but the number of Danish filmmakers who are gaining international experience and inviting in foreign talent has certainly never been higher.
Henrik Bo Nielsen, CEO