New Danish Films to watch in 2016

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Check out our guide to the must-see movies coming soon from Denmark!

With the Robert Awards, Bodil Awards and the Oscars launching us into a ceremonial start to the New Year, here are the top, critically acclaimed Danish films with a congregation of Nordic Noir stars presenting their talents on the big, international screen.

A War (Krigen)

Directed by Tobias Lindholm. Starring Pilou Asbæk, Tuva Novotny, Dar Salim and Søren Malling

The controversial war film set in Afghanistan received its UK cinema release on Friday 8th January. The film has already reached notoriety not only for depicting war crimes and atrocities against civilians by Danish soldiers, but to compete as Best Foreign Language Film at the 88th Academy Awards. A War has also been nominated at the Robert Prisen Awards (the Oscar equivalent in Denmark) for Best Danish Film.

Mark Kermode cited the film in The Guardian as “nailbiting tension, suffocating stillness” and commented on the “powerful drama about a Danish army officer on trial after his patrol suffers a traumatising loss in Afghanistan blurs boundaries between bravery and blame”. In The Independent, Geoffrey MacNab praises A War as being “well written, and it covers every base in its exploration of its main protagonist’s behaviour and motivations. It works both as a war movie and, in its latter scenes, as a finely calibrated courtroom drama.”

Filmmaker Tobias Lindholm is reunited with Pilou Asbæk (Borgen, 2010-2013 and 1864, 2014) from directing the actor in the tense thriller A Hijacking (2012), as well as having written many episodes of Borgen and the WWII drama April 9th (2015).

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Land of Mine (Under the Sand/ Under sandet)

Directed by Martin Zandvliet. Starring Roland Møller, Mikkel Boe Følsgaard, Laura Bro, Louis Hofmann and Joel Basman

Denmark is no stranger to shining the light of self-effacing scrutiny on screen when it comes to the war film. From the Emmy award-winning documentary Armadillo (2010) that bears similar hallmarks to Lindholm’s A War, to April 9th; that saw the Danish army surrender to Nazi troops in the Second World War. We cannot ignore the epic miniseries 1864, followed by the feature-film version 1864: the Battle for Europe (2014), which charted Denmark’s humiliating defeat during the Second Schleswig-Holstein War. In Land of Mine, at the beginning of WWII, German PoW’s are tasked to diffuse bombs scattered around the beaches in Denmark.

Following its screenings at the Hamburg Film Festival and Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) in 2015, Land of Mine has received multiple nominations in the festival circuit, winning Best Actor for Roland Møller and Louis Hofmann at the Tokyo International Film Festival. Back on native soil, Land of Mine has garnered over seven Robert Award nominations, including being in the running for Best Danish Film, Director and Original Screenplay. Mikkel Boe Følsgaard from DR’s The Legacy (2014- ) is also voted for Best Supporting Actor, playing Lt. Ebbe Jensen.

Director Martin Zandvliet’s next project is to commit the Russian submarine disaster aboard the fateful Kursk to film in 2016.

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The Commune (Kollektivet)

Directed by Thomas Vinterberg. Starring Ulrich Thomsen, Fares Fares, Trine Dyrholm and Julie Agnete Vang

The Dogme95 co-founder is back with two familiar faces from around the dysfunctional dining room table. Ulrich Thomsen and The Legacy’s Trine Dyrholm take the lead in the Vinterberg’s latest family orientated drama, having portrayed lovers at the infamous gathering in Festen (1998), which launched the Dogme95 movement with Lars von Trier’s The Idiots (1998). To add a sense of realism to the story, in keeping with the memory of the Dogme95 Manifesto, the filmis based on Vinterberg’s own experience living in a commune from 1976-1985.

Perhaps due to the auteur’s illustrious reputation – winning two Jury Prizes at Cannes for Festen and The Hunt (2012) and nominated for the Palme d’Or for both – The Commune has been selected for the main competition at this year’s Berlin International Film Festival, ahead of its Danish cinema release on 14th January. Vinterberg has previously been in contention for the Golden Bear for Submarino (2010) so hopefully, this is his year to add to his already impressive collection of accolades.

The Commune is co-written by Vinterberg with A War director Tobias Lindholm. The pair previously collaborated on the script for The Hunt, which won seven top Robert Awards at the 2014 festival.

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The Idealist (Idealisten)

Directed by Christina Rosendahl. Starring Peter Plaugborg, Søren Malling, Thomas Bo Larsen, Jens Albinus, Arly Jover and Henrik Birch

On 21st January in 1968 an American B-52 fitted with four nuclear bombs crashed in nearby to the US military Air Base in Thule, Greenland. Eighteen years later, a rising number of cases in 1986 from the workers who cleaned up the incident have contracted fatal plutonium poisoning. This conspiracy motivates radio journalist Poul Brink (Peter Plaugborg) to reveal the US Government’s nuclear catastrophe the world.

The Idealist previewed at the Day for Night’s Nordic Film Festival in UK cinemas in December 2015, before Arrow Film acquired the distribution rights, along with Men & Chicken. Based on true events, The Idealist is the second feature-film from documentary filmmaker Christina Rosendahl, having previously won the Best Children/Family Film at the Robert Awards in 2007 for coming-of-age drama Triple Dare (2006). Rosendahl is tipped for Best Director at this year’s ceremony.

Distinguished Danish actor Søren Malling from The Killing I (2007), Borgen, 1864 and A Hijacking graces our screen once again, with fellow Borgen star Jens Albinus. The cast features Thomas Bo Larsen from Festen, The Hunt and soon to appear in Follow the Money, as well as Henrik Birch; winner of Best Actor at both the Bodil and Robert Awards in 2015 for his leading role in Klumpfisken (2014).

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Read more about Arrow Films acquiring the rights to The Idealist and Men & Chicken here.

Men & Chicken

Directed by Anders Thomas Jensen. Starring Mads Mikkelsen, David Dencik, Nikolaj Lie Kaas, Nicolas Bro and Søren Malling

Mads Mikkelsen and David Dencik are Elias and Gabriel, respectively; two somewhat quirky, adult brothers who, in the wake of their father’s death, discover they have an alternative biological family. Driven by a curious quest to understand their idiosyncratic identities, Elias and Gabriel visit their mysterious brethren living in a sanatorium on an island, cut-off from civilisation.

This off-beat Danish comedy recently featured as part of the programme of Nordic films at the BFI London Film Festival 2015. From accomplished writer Anders Thomas Jensen (After the Wedding, 2006 and The Salvation, 2014), Men & Chicken reunites the filmmaker with his regular pool of actors: Mads Mikkelsen, Nikolaj Lie Kaas and Nicolas Bro (Adam’s Apples, 2005 and The Green Butchers, 2003).

At the Robert Prisen Awards 2016, Men & Chicken will be competing in the main film categories, with Mads Mikkelsen in consideration for Best Actor. In addition to Best Original Screenplay for Men & Chicken, Anders Thomas Jensen is also up for Best Adapted Screenplay for The Shamer’s Daughter.

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Take a closer look at the nominations for the 32nd Robert Prisen Awards here.