Three Danish male directors stand behind this reflecting impressionistic collage on Life and Death, joy and pain, sorrow and happiness. The background is Denmark in this beginning of a new century, a country that is at war in Iraq, a society where refugees from the same country live in asylum centres, a place on earth – like everywhere else – where old people die and children get born.

The directing team has chosen a contrasting structural principle. From the young boy who is to be sent to Iraq, to the asylum centre girl, who writes to the minister for help. From the drug abusers and alcoholics who get a visit by the police to the young rich man who negociates a price for his airplane. Or to the young couple who is expecting their child and argues about how to arrange their future life. And many other characters from the country and from the city. Old and young. Rich or well-off and poor. And in between the old man whose wall is full of small philosophical notes. The one who is there to stress that the film wants to be more than glimpses of life in Denmark.

But is it more than so? Is this the right narrative format for going deeper, for making us viewers reflect? I doubt it, at the same time as I welcome the ambition. For me, however, it stays on the surface, I am looking at something that I know very well, Denmark and Danish life – and as such the film in some ways succeeds to give us Denmark as it is right now, for good and bad – but the universal layer stays conceptual wishful thinking where at no point you feel really involved. Gemacht. What a pity. For a film with three fine directors, right intentions and brilliant camera work.

Paradise. 70 mins. By Jens Loftager, Erlend Moe, Sami Saif. Denmark, 2008

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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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