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
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
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..