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"One of the good things about the Danish film industry is that directors look out for one another"

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Kristian Levring • Director


- After premiering it at Cannes, Danish filmmaker Kristian Levring presented The Salvation at the London Film Festival, where Cineuropa spoke to him

Kristian Levring  • Director

In spite of its protagonists being two Danish brothers and despite it having been filmed in South Africa for production purposes, Kristian Levring's The Salvation [+see also:
interview: Kristian Levring
film profile
has received a great deal of praise for being very faithful to the American western genre whilst still being filled with a raft of novel elements. The US and Canadian markets were amongst the first to ensure distribution for this Danish-UK-South African co-production. With the director having devoted himself to his family and to advertising, his career in cinema has not been a very long one. However, now, he tells us that's about to change. After premiering his new movie at Cannes, this tale of revenge carried out by Mads Mikkelsen was screened at the London Film Festival, where we spoke to Levring.

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Cineuropa: Your western with a Danish touch has won over even the most demanding of viewers...
Kristian Levring:
 At the end of the day, it's a film genre whose stories are universal. Also, since I'm European, I did a lot of research to make sure that everything shown on screen was correct. I watched many films, embracing all the different varieties within the genre. I started with my favourite, John Ford: My Darling ClementineThe Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. I then moved, inevitably, onto Sergio Leone's films. In fact, I could not film in Almería for budget reasons. His Once Upon a Time in the West is a masterpiece. And The Good, the Bad and the Ugly was also a source of inspiration, as was Akira Kurosawa's Seven Samurai.

Why do you think that Danish productions have been sparking so much international interest over the last few years?
If I had to point out one good thing about our film industry, it's that we look out for one another, and we're really good at it. We read other directors’ screenplays, we take the time to watch other directors’ films when they're still in the editing suite. We help one another, as good colleagues do. I don't think that's a very common thing.

This reminds me a bit of when, almost 20 years ago, some Danish directors, including you, joined the Dogma 95 manifesto launched by Lars von Trier and Thomas Vinterberg. What do you remember about that collective initiative, after all these years?
The Dogma movement was a huge event in my life, and if I have to be honest, without wanting to sound pretentious, I believe it was for the Danish film industry, too. It was also an unparalleled learning process. Being a director is, at least in some respects, quite a lonely profession, and all the responsibility falls on you. With this manifesto, for the first time, we were sharing some of these things. It was not just an intellectual event for us, but also an emotional one. 

An eagerly awaited project is Detroit, the horror film that Von Trier is writing based on an idea that you pitched to him, and that you are planning on directing. Which stage is the project at?
I made the mistake of talking about the project too early, thus sparking an unexpected amount of interest. At the moment, I can only say that the film is still in the initial stages of production. Lars has not yet written the screenplay, and I will be working on other projects before shooting this film. Still, in theory, the project should get made.

(Translated from Spanish)

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