Andreas Koefoed: At Home in the World


Before the review you will first get a slightly shortened version of the precise description of the film taken from its website. In the post below you will find information about the upcoming distribution during the CPH:DOX. The international premiere takes place later this month at IDFA.

”The film is an intimate depiction of the everyday lives of five refugee children on a Danish Red Cross asylum school.

The children; Magomed, Sehmuz, Heda, Amel and Ali have different nationalities and backgrounds, but they have all fled their homes with their families, arriving in Denmark with the hope of starting over.

Over the course of one year, there is an 80% replacement in one class on the asylum school. Few are granted residency in Denmark, and move out of the asylum centres to become part of the Danish society. Others are rejected and sent back to their country of origin. Some go underground and continue their lives on the run from the atrocities in their home country.

Over the course of a year, we follow the children in an ever-

changing environment. It is hard to create bonds and friendships, and the tone is often harsh amongst the kids, as they all fight inner battles with traumatic events of their past. We follow their attempt to learn a new language, create friendships and prepare to form a new home in Denmark…”

Review: I chose the photo of a smiling Magomed, the boy from Chechnya, who is the main character of the five. He is in a bus on his way to a home in the world. In this case Denmark. In the film he is given residency and is moved to a Danish public school from the asylum centre, where we as an audience have followed him and the other four children. We have not seen a smiling Magomed, we have seen him shy and worried, and getting important praise by the fabulous teacher Dorte, who has conversations with his mother and father and declares her love to the boy (and his sister). Magomed and his mother and sister get residency, they can stay in Denmark, whereas the father’s explanation to the authorities that he has been tortured by the Russians are not trusted, so he is to be sent back! Luckily we are by text at the end of the film informed that also he can stay.

Andreas Koefoed is a brilliant observer. He is able to create atmosphere in scenes and sequences with a constant gentleness towards the kids as he did in the films “Albert’s Winter” and “12 Notes Down”. There is a musicality in the way the film is built (Jacob Schulsinger is the editor as he has been on the previous films mentioned and as he was on the Efterklang-documentary “The Ghost of Piramida”) and he dares to make nature scenes be music-filled reflection pauses in-between the observations of the children. From one to the other. It is a scoop to have the sentence “do you have any questions” come back several times, questions that the teachers put to the kids when they are to change to a school or when they arrive at the new place. They have no questions, they hope without really knowing what they can hope for.

Yes, you sit there with tears in your eyes watching a film that takes its time to make us watch children, who come from a place in the world, from where their parents had to flee. And you sit there watching Magomed asking his father, what the Russians did to him and what would happen if he was to be deported.

There is no aggression, no anger in the film – there is Love. And respect for the work that the asylum centre and its staff is doing. The anger comes with the viewer’s knowledge of current Danish policy towards refugees. Magomed, hopefully you will get many reasons to smile!

Denmark, 2015, 58 mins.

Andreas Koefoeds tidligere film anmeldt på Våbensmuglingen (2014), Piramida (2012), Ballroom Dancer (2011)

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Tue Steen Müller
Tue Steen Müller

Müller, Tue Steen
Documentary Consultant and Critic, DENMARK

Worked with documentary films for more than 20 years at the Danish Film Board, as press officer, festival representative and film consultant/commissioner. Co-founder of Balticum Film and TV Festival, Filmkontakt Nord, Documentary of the EU and EDN (European Documentary Network).
Awards: 2004 the Danish Roos Prize for his contribution to the Danish and European documentary culture. 2006 an award for promoting Portuguese documentaries. 2014 he received the EDN Award “for an outstanding contribution to the development of the European documentary culture”. 2016 The Cross of the Knight of the Order for Merits to Lithuania. 2019 a Big Stamp at the 15th edition of ZagrebDox. 2021 receipt of the highest state decoration, Order of the Three Stars, Fourth Class, for the significant contribution to the development and promotion of Latvian documentary cinema outside Latvia. In 2022 he received an honorary award at DocsBarcelona’s 25th edition having served as organizer and programmer since the start of the festival.
From 1996 until 2005 he was the first director of EDN (European Documentary Network). From 2006 a freelance consultant and teacher in workshops like Ex Oriente, DocsBarcelona, Archidoc, Documentary Campus, Storydoc, Baltic Sea Forum, Black Sea DocStories, Caucadoc, CinéDOC Tbilisi, Docudays Kiev, Dealing With the Past Sarajevo FF as well as programme consultant for the festivals Magnificent7 in Belgrade, DOCSBarcelona, Verzio Budapest, Message2Man in St. Petersburg and DOKLeipzig. Teaches at the Zelig Documentary School in Bolzano Italy.

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