Danish Documentaries

It is going well for Danish documentaries, and it is not only we Danes who say so in the general halleluja-how-good-we-are atmosphere that often reign here. The Swedish say so (9 documentaries to be shown at the upcoming Gothenburg International Film Festival) as well as the Americans, according to the number of docs to be shown at the coming Sundance festival, 3 out of 4 Danish titles. Idfa, the biggest festival for the genre in the world, had ”The Ambassador” as the opening film and so on so forth.

And back home the documentary is now being acknowledged. The national Bodil Awards, which constitute the major Danish film awards given by Denmark’s National Association of Film Critics, to be distributed in March, include now a nomination of five documentaries, for the first time in the history of the awards. The nominees are: The Will (Testamentet), Christian Sønderby. The Ambassador (Ambassadøren), Mads Brügger. Svend, Anne Regitze Wivel. ½ Revolution, Karim El Hakim og Omar Shargawi. The President (Præsidenten), Christoffer Guldbrandsen. On a personal note: This is really good news, I still remember the lobbying for this to happen that we were many who performed occasionally during the 20 years I worked at the National Film Board of Denmark (Statens Filmcentral). Without result. Were the documentaries worse back in the 70’es, 80’es, 90’es? No. Was the visibility for documentaries in the general opinion worse? Absolutely! Has the documentary genre developed along with the technical development going from film to video? For sure!

Which is also evident when you look at a press release that reached us today from the DoxBio: Proudly it is announced that the number of tickets sold for documentaries through DoxBio theatrical distribution to the Danish cinemas in 2011 had grown from around 20.000 to 77.078. The bestseller is Svend (photo) about the late socialdemocratic politician Svend Auken which reached 40.542 with The Ambassador as number 2 with 18.326 and Eva Mulvad’s The Good Life with 10.879. 42 cinemas take part in DoxBio. Still, these numbers do not at all compete with the 135.000 tickets sold for Janus Metz Armadillo a couple of years ago.


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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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