2007 – good
Danish film has had its problems with getting out of the new minimalist cinema tradition, which was introduced after Dogma. The directors have worked with limited budgets and even more limited creativity – but there were films in 2007 that showed the audience, that the Danes haven’t forgot how to make visually interesting films. Nikolaj Arcel’s “The Island of lost Souls” is by far the most ambitious adventure film ever made in Denmark. Both production value and story could compete with foreign films. The same qualities could be seen in Ole Bornedal’s “Just another love story”. Bornedal proved himself as the maverick in Denmark – with two films on the marked within two months, both commercial and critical successes. “Love Story” came just after “The Substitute” – a teen-horror flick with originality and wit. Anders Morgenthaler’s “Ekko”, Jannik Johansen’s “White Night” and Peter Schønau Fog’s multi award winner “The Art of Crying” developed with finness the minimalistic storytelling also introduced by Lars von Trier’s Dogma-curse on Danish cinema. The three films give hope for the new generation of storytellers, with modern stories about family and relations – items that traditionally interests the Danish audience.
2007 – bad
Artistically we saw some new things happen in 2007 – but the scary thing was at the same time, that the audience have left the Danish films bleeding. Two years ago it was easy to sell 200.000 tickets in Denmark – now it’s almost impossible. Two years ago 500.000 admissions was a huge success, now 250.000 is a blockbuster. It looks like the audience have turned their backs on the Danish films – and right now it’s hard to see who can break that deadlock. At the same time I think that 50% of Danish premieres in 2007 didn’t have either the artistically nor the commercial values to trigger the audience to see them. The conclusion for now is that the Danish producers, distributors and directors will have to reinvent Danish cinema if they want to get back to the golden days that lasted from 1994 to 2005.
There is a lot of complaining in the business. The producers are not satisfied with the Danish film Institutes subsidy system, and there are not any development plans for the new talents, who to some degree have been left by the government-controlled system.
Therefore the trend is that the production companies try to develop new production methods that doesn’t include the DFI – which means that the producers full finance the films or work closely together with one of the two national TV-stations, who have a good deal of cash to spend on film production. The entire crisis is based on the record-low ticket sale, which is infecting the business at the moment.
There is hope, despite the darkness of 2007. In 2008 we will see a string of new helmers getting their chance – such as Kasper Barfoed’s thriller ”The Candidate” and ”Moving Up” by Christian Bjarke Dyekjær. But the year will be dominated by good, solid and well owned people, who the business expects to break into the heart and wallets of the audience. Ole Chr Madsens World War II epic ”Flame and Citron” is the most expensive Danish film made, with a $10 million budget. Old-timer auteur Nils Malmros releases his first film in 6 years in fall 08, “Kærestesorger”, and last years smash hit director Niels Arden Oplev (We shall overcome) is back with a dark, religious drama “Between two worlds”.
I do not think that we will see any revolutions in 08 – the films out have been planned and produced already, so the general hope for the coming year must be, that the producers will return to a state, where they take chances and perhaps most importantly; realize that the film business in Denmark needs something new, something fresh, something provocative – right now – otherwise we will be thrown back into the dark 80’ties and start 90’ties where Danish film was a bad, annoying and pointless joke.