D like Documentary, D like Denmark

Focus on Denmark at the anniversary 60th Krakow Film Festival

Every year, within the frames of the Krakow Film Festival, the latest documentary, short and animated films from a selected country are presented. This time, the special section of the Festival is dedicated to Denmark. Fascinating film screenings and numerous accompanying and industry events wait for the audience in Krakow.

Denmark is another country of the Baltic Sea region which we will take a closer look at, says Barbara Orlicz-Szczypuła, the director of the Programme Office of the Festival. This year’s selection proves, however, that the Danish filmmakers, just like the Polish ones, are more eager to go abroad with their cameras. The variety of topics they deal with is surprising and engaging. In the programme, we will watch both several psychological portraits of the contemporary human, as well as fascinating stories about distant cultures.

In the section Focus on Denmark, we will watch 7 feature-length documentary films. The series will open with “Q’s Barbershop” (dir. Emil Langballe). The titular Qasim is a passionate and talented member of the immigrant community Vollsmose which unites the young people from the neighboorhood, giving them a sense of identity, inspiration, hope and… great haircuts. This exceptionally colourful and optimistic story also shows the dark sides of life in exile, filled with yearning and the sense of being excluded.

Love Child,” directed by Eva Mulvad, is also a story about emigrants. The protagonists of this documentary film are a couple of Iranian refugees, Leila and Sahand, who together with their four-year-old son leave their country in a hurry, in this way avoiding the death penalty which threatens them. The dramatic and suspenseful escape, the struggle with the soulless offices and the attempts to start their lives anew are marked with the stigma of forbidden love.

Another documentary film by the same director will also appear in the programme. “A Modern Man” deals with the issues typical of our times: with the chase after the illusory idea of success and with the loneliness which is often its result. The film’s protagonist is a young, ambitious violin player and the model of major fashion houses, Charlie Siem, who seems to have everything and at first glance leads an ideal life. 

Some people, however, manage to free themselves from the social pressure, conventions and cultural norms. This is what happens in the case of the protagonists of the documentary film “Fat Front” (dir. Louise Detlefsen, Louise Unmack Kjeldsen). They are young Scandinavian women, who are fed up with hating themselves, feeling ashamed of themselves and who proudly call themselves fat. They are at the forefront of the revolution, which is born in the world focused on diet and the constant pursuit of being “ideal.”

The director, Jannik Splidsboel in the film “Dreams of the Outback” transports the viewers to western Australia, the home of many Aboriginal communities, taking a closer look at the fates of a couple of characters. The representatives of the indigenous peoples fight to preserve cultural tradition, and they struggle with terrible consequences of the cruel colonisation.

Jan Grarup is the titular “Photographer of War,” one of the most famous and the most frequently awarded Danish photojournalists. In the film by Borin Benjamin Bertram, he faces the necessity of balancing the adrenaline-filled life on the war front, which he has been successfully documenting for quarter of a century, against the role of the father of four children and the sole provider. This psychological portrait depicts the protagonist’s internal struggle which is doomed to fail.

In turn, “Winter Journey” (dir. Anders Østergaard) focuses on close family relationships. Thanks to unique archival materials, as well as interesting post-production work, we learn about the fate of George and Rosemarie Goldsmith, Jewish musicians who left Nazi Germany almost at the last moment. In this fascinating documentary film, the outstanding actor Bruno Ganz plays the main character and it is his last role.

In addition, in the international documentary film competition, another Danish film will compete against the best productions from around the world, namely  “I Love You I Miss You I Hope I See You Before I Die” (dir. Eva Marie Rødbro). It is an emotional portrait of a young woman, living below the poverty line and sharing her home with ten other people in the suburbs of Colorado Springs. The subtle eye of the camera observes her constant struggles with fate, but also fleeting moments of joy.

In section Kids&Youth Films for the Young, there will be no lack of films from Denmark, either. In the programme for the youngest viewers, there are both Danish feature films and animated films. The representatives of the film industry of Denmark and Poland will also meet at a joint conference and at many special events.

The partners of the section Focus on Denmark are the Danish Film Institute, the Danish Cultural Institute in Warsaw and the Embassy of Denmark in Poland.

The films in the section Focus on Denmark:

  • “Photographer of War,” dir. Boris Benjamin Bertram, 78’, 2019
  • “Fat Front,” dir. Louise Detlefsen, Louise Unmack Kjeldsen, 87’, 2019
  • “Winter Journey,” dir. Anders Østergaard, 87’, 2019
  • “Q’s Barbershop,” dir. Emil Langballe, 60’, 2019
  • “A Modern Man,” dir. Eva Mulvad, 84’, 2017
  • “Dreams from The Outback,” dir. Jannik Splidsboel, 84’, 2019

The Focus for Denmark section is organized in cooperation with: