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2011: An amazing year for Danish film

One Oscar, two prizes in Cannes, four European Film Awards, four nominations for Sundance Film Festival and a claim for the best film in 2011 by two renowned film magazines. We look back on one of the best years ever for Danish cinema.

The Cannes Festival in May 2011 looked like another possible victory for Danish film, as Lars von Trier premiered his ‘Melancholia’ which was instantly considered a good bid for the golden Palm.

 

2011 was an astonishing year for Danish film.

In February, Susanne Bier received the ultimate recognition for a director by getting an Oscar for her film ‘In a Better World’ in the category Best Foreign Language Film. It was the third time a Danish film received this honour. Before Bier, Gabriel Axel won the prize in 1987 for ‘Babette´s Feast’ and Bille August repeated this by winning again in 1988 for his film ‘Pelle the Conqueror’.

The Golden Palm and Nazis

The Cannes Festival in May looked like another possible victory for Danish film, as Lars von Trier premiered his ‘Melancholia’ which was instantly considered a good bid for the golden Palm. But at a press conference after the screening, the often controversial von Trier made international headlines with some misinterpreted comments about understanding the Nazis. Trier himself was excluded from the festival but his film ‘Melancholia’ stayed in competition and went on to receive much acclaim and the prize for best actress (Kirsten Dunst).

"A brilliant piece of nasty business"

Nicholas Winding Refn, who is well-known in Denmark for his ‘Pusher trilogy’, finally got his international break-through with ‘Drive’. Like ‘Melancholia’, it also premiered in Cannes to wide critical acclaim. The Rolling Stone Magazine called ‘Drive’, “a brilliant piece of nasty business that races on a B-movie track until it switches to the dizzying fuel of undiluted creativity. Damn, it's good.”

Nicholas Winding Refn received the best director award in Cannes and in December two British film magazines, Empire and Total Film both named ‘Drive’ the “best film in 2011”.

"Bloody Danes"

But Danish film didn´t reach its successful climax until the European Film Awards in December.

On a night completely dominated by “the bloody Danes”, as British director Stephen Frears jealously remarked, Lars von Trier was ‘forgiven’ and ‘Melancholia’ went on to win the prize for best film. Susanne Bier won best director and actor Mads Mikkelsen received the special prize for ‘European achievement in world cinema’.

In February 2011, Susanne Bier received the ultimate recognition for a director by getting an Oscar for her film ‘In a Better World’ in the category Best Foreign Language Film.

 

Nicholas Winding Refn, who is well-known in Denmark for his ‘Pusher trilogy’, finally got his international break-through with ‘Drive’.

 

Sexiest man

His Swedish colleague and friend Stellan Skarsgaard spoke for him and with mocking irony remarked to the handsome Mikkelsen: "I don't admire you for your looks, because you're not good looking. You have an interesting face. I know you've been voted sexiest man in Denmark like six times but those are by people who don't know you. And we have to remember, Denmark is a very small place."

A very small place with very gifted movie directors it would seem. And the success could continue in 2012 with four new films already invited to the Sundance Film Festival.

Mads Mikkelsen
Mads Mikkelsen received the special prize for ‘European achievement in world cinema’ in 2011.