Monthly Archives: octobre 2010

A new golden age for Danish documentaries (5/6)

For some years already, Danish documentary has been well represented in international film festivals. Among the latest examples: Armadillo by Janus Metz awarded the 2010 Grand Prix du Jury Semaine de la Critique and The Red Chapel by Mads Brüger awarded Great Prize of the Jury at the 2010 Sundance International Film Festival. Back to the history of Danish documentary.

 Documentary, an adventure genre

 

Knud Rasmussen, Paul Henningsen are quite unknown in France. They nevertheless marked the history of Danish documentary. Nanook (1934) was about the last expedition of the explorer Knud Rasmussen and arose a great interest among the Danish public. Its narrative construction, its length (1h20) and its ethnographic quality (it studies the Inuit way of life) made it a very different film from other explorer films.

Paul Henningsen, another outstanding documentarist, shot Danmark (1935) often described as an impressionist, poetic and light painting of his country. During the 1930s, documentary took off. During the Second World War, it kept its lightness to better by-passed the Nazi propaganda. It became diversified over the following years, keeping away from Nation and exploration topics under the influence of cinema and television.

 The experimental era

 

Jorgen Leth, DR

In the 1960s, Jorgen Leth undoubtedly became the most famous Danish documentarist. The Perfect Human (1967) a 13 minute long short film that tries to define the perfect human made his work known. This film was the beginning of another documentary “The Five Obstructions” (2003) by Lars von Trier. Jorgen Leth agreed to his film in five different ways, by each time following five different obstructions. With Lars von Trier, documentary becomes a dog-umentary and must abide by the rules of a Manifesto similar to the Dogme Manifesto.

Documentary is back on the international scene

 

Armadillo, Janus Metz, DR

With Armadillo by Janus Metz (2010 Grand Prix du Jury Semaine de la Critique), a documentary on young Danish soldiers leaving for their first mission in Afghanistan in a camp named Armadilllo, documentary is back on the international scene.

Another Danish documentary has been praised in 2010: The Red Chapel by Mads Brüger, a humorous documentary on false acting troup that is willing to perform their show in North Korea (Great Prize of the Jury at the 2010 Sundance International Film Festival)

These two documentaries will be screened in Les Arcs next December. Watch Armadillo‘s trailer…

Coming soon, When Danish actors go abroad..

Le nouvel âge d’or du documentaire danois (5/6)

Depuis quelques années, le documentaire danois a fait un retour remarqué dans les festivals internationaux. derniers exemples en date : Armadillo, Grand Prix de la Semaine de la Critique 2010 et The Red Chapel,  récompensé par le Grand Prix 2010 à Sundance. Petite histoire du documentaire au Danemark.

Le documentaire, un genre d’explorateurs

 

Knud Rasmussen, Paul Henningsen… sont des noms quasi-inconnus en France mais qui ont pourtant marqué l’histoire du documentaire danois. Nanook (1934) relate la dernière expédition de l’explorateur Knud Rasmussen et suscite l’intérêt du grand public danois. Il se distingue de tous les autres films d’expédition par sa construction narrative, sa durée (1h20) et son intérêt ethnographique en s’intéressant aux Inuits.

Autre figure marquante, Paul Henningsen, qui réalise avec Danmark en 1935, une peinture impressionniste, poétique et légère de son pays. Après ces deux films, le documentaire prend son envol. Pendant la seconde guerre mondiale, il conserve un ton léger pour mieux contourner la propagande nazie. Il se diversifie dans les années suivantes, abandonnant progressivement les thématiques de la Nation, du voyage et de l’exploration, sous l’influence du cinéma et de la télévision.

 L’ère des expérimentateurs

 

Jorgen Leth, DR

 

Dans les années 1960, Jorgen Leth devient la figure phare du documentaire danois. Son travail de documentariste est reconnu lorsqu’il réalise The Perfect Human (1967), un court métrage de 13 minutes qui tente de définir ce qu’est l’homme parfait. Ce court métrage est le point de départ d’un autre “documentaire”, Five obstructions (2003) réalisé par Lars von Trier dans lequel il demande à Jorgen Leth de réaliser cinq nouvelles versions de The Perfect Human, en se pliant chaque fois à cinq contraintes différentes. Avec Lars von Trier, le documentaire devient d’ailleurs « dogumentaire » puisqu’il le soumet à une charte d’interdictions semblable à celle qu’il avait pu élaborer pour le Dogme. Les réalisateurs du Dogme sont d’ailleurs eux-mêmes le sujet d’un documentaire, The Purified de Jesper Jargil

Le retour sur la scène internationale


Armadillo, Janus Metz, DR

Avec Armadillo de Janus Metz (Grand Prix de la Semaine de la Critique 2010), un documentaire sur de jeunes soldats danois partant pour la première fois en mission en Afghanistan dans le camp “Armadillo”, le documentaire renoue avec le grand public international.
L’année 2010 est aussi celle du succès de The Red Chapel de Mads Brüger, documentaire humoristique sur une fausse troupe de comédiens voulant monter un vaudeville en Corée du Nord, récompensé par le Grand Prix du Jury au Festival du Film de Sundance.

Armadillo et The Red Chapel seront projetés dans les salles de cinéma des Arcs en décembre prochain dans le cadre du Focus pays 2010. Regarder la bande-annonce de Armadillo et des autres films programmés aux Arcs du 11 au 18 décembre…

 Prochainement, les Danois à l’étranger…


 

 

The wor(l)d of Claude Duty (5/8)

It is much easier to remember a classic scene taking place in a train station, a shower, a port, a forest or a river, but there is still no mountain in view?
However, a lot of film festivals have already been organized in the mountains. Who has ever tried to explain why the mountains celebrate cinema when cinema seems to neglect them? Claude Duty holds the investigation.

One must admit that organizing a film festival in the mountains, in a renowned skiing site, is no novelty! How can be explained the curious mixture between cinema and snowy peaks? Have someone ever managed to explain this odd wedding?

Here are some thoughts:

Mountains’ landscapes are all white.
Cinemas’ screenings rooms are all black.

In the mountains, one climbs, slides, jumps and spans.
In a screening room, one is seated, static and still.

In the mountains, one devours diots, raclettes, fondues and tartiflettes.
In a screening room, one nibbles pop-corn, sweets, ice screams and chocolate.

In the mountains, one cloaks oneself and tries to keep warm.
In a screening room, one makes oneself home and takes his jacket and hat off.

In the mountains, one exults, deeply breathes and endlessly « yodellises ».
In a screening room, one is quiet and breathless.

In a nutshell, mountains and cinema seem opposed in every ways.

Further, who could name a cinema classic referring to the mountains? Try to find one… It is much easier to remember a classic scene taking place in a train station, a shower, a port, a forest or a river, but there is still no mountain in view?

Or is it…? There is, of course, the surrealistic skiing descent in Spellbound by Alfred Hitchcock, or the lonely hostel in Shining by Stanley Kubrick. These are two films underlining the frightening foolishness of a sick mind. Mountains and cinema undoubtedly form a bizarre duo.

Well, in Les Arcs, mountains and cinema get along perfectly… and there is no need for any further enquiry. Be ready to enjoy white snow and film screenings at the heart of the Alps between 11 and 18 December!

Le grain de sel de Claude Duty (5/8)

Citez-moi, de but en blanc, un grand classique du cinéma évoquant la montagne. On cherche… on trouve très vite un film avec une scène d’anthologie dans une gare, une douche, un port, une forêt, un fleuve… pas de montagne à l’horizon ?
Pourtant, de nombreux festivals de films ont lieu à la montagne… mais qui a déjà cherché à savoir pourquoi la montagne célèbre le cinéma quand celui-ci la néglige ?
Claude Duty a mené l’enquête.

Organiser un festival en montagne, dans un des hauts lieux du ski, cela n’est pas nouveau, il faut bien l’avouer. Mais à quoi correspond ce curieux amalgame entre cinéma et sommets enneigés ? S’est-on déjà vraiment penché sur ce mariage pour le moins contre nature ?

Voici quelques éléments de réflexion :

A la montagne on est dans le blanc.
Au cinéma on est dans le noir.

A la montagne on grimpe, on glisse, on saute, on enjambe.
Au cinéma on reste assis, statique, immobile.

A la montagne on dévore diots, raclettes, fondues et autres tartiflettes.
Au cinéma on grignote pop-corn, bonbons, esquimaux, chocolats.

A la montagne on se couvre, on se calfeutre, on se protège.
Au cinéma on se met à l’aise, on pose la veste ou le manteau, on enlève son couvre-chef.

A la montagne, on exulte, on respire à fond, on « Yodellise » à tout va.
Au cinéma on se tait, on retient sa respiration, on a le souffle coupé.

Bref, tout oppose ces deux mondes.

De plus, citez-moi, de but en blanc, un grand classique du cinéma évoquant la montagne. On cherche… on trouve très vite un film avec une scène d’anthologie dans une gare, une douche, un port, une forêt, un fleuve… pas de montagne à l’horizon ?

Si, peut être… une descente à ski vertigineuse signée Salvador Dali dans La maison du docteur Edwardes d’Alfred Hitchcock, ou l’hôtel isolé de Shining de Stanley Kubrick. Mais attention, dans les deux cas, c’est pour mieux évoquer la folie inquiétante d’un esprit malade. Bref, montagne et cinéma forment décidemment un drôle de couple.

Enfin, aux Arcs, la mayonnaise semble avoir pris… ne cherchons pas plus loin et donnons-nous rendez-vous entre neiges immaculées et salles obscures au cœur des Alpes du 11 au 18 décembre 2010 !


Three Questions to… (5/7)

She starred in Gladiator by Ridley Scott,Brothers by Susanne Bier, Mission to Mars by Brian de Palma… The Hollywood Danish actress answers our three questions on her American experience and what she thinks of Danish contemporary cinema.

Connie Nielsen
Actress, member of the 2010 Jury

You are a Danish actress who came to live in the USA and shot many films with prestigious film-makers. On which criteria do you decide to shoot a film?

My criteria for choosing a film is first of all based on whether I am moved, emotionally or intellectually, and preferably in both ways, by the script.

Lately I have realized that I tend to be drawn towards stories that try to illuminate aspects of the conflicts we are living through today, both globally, in our local society and inside our minds and hearts.

I am also, of course, a fan of several film makers that I yearn to work with and that I hope to grow with as an artist, so anything they send I automatically try to do.

Lastly, I really try to work with first timers because it is exciting to see a certain level of passion at work even as the director/writer is in the process of discovering the tools of their specific form of story telling.

You have already worked with a lot of European and American film-makers. Is working on an American film different from working on a European project?

Yes, it is very different. The energy on a set seems to reflect some really general perceptions we hold about various nationalities, sometimes to the point of caricature.

On an American film set there is great emphasis on timeliness and efficiency, and there is a really high energy level, which I find kind of wonderful.

However, I love the anti-drama of Danish film sets, – there is a sort of every-day “get things done” attitude mixed with an absolute lack of hierarchy that I really love: The director is of course the “Boss” in that we are trying to achieve her/his vision, but, unlike on other film-sets, there is a very democratic, relaxed atmosphere that in no way interferes with a high level of productivity.

For its 2nd edition, Les Arcs European Film Festival dedicates a focus to the Danish cinema. What do you particularly appreciate in the contemporary Danish cinema?

Danish Contemporary cinema is able to fund and promote films that treat subjects of an emotional and intellectual depth unlikely to be made anywhere else.

In addition, Danish contemporary cinema has actually invented and now perfected, a new, ‘informal’, aesthetic, which, coupled with fantastic chops in story-telling, really suits the subject matter they are expert in treating: the Family in crisis, the Personal psychological meltdown, Society as alienating force.