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Jesper Morthorst • Alphaville Pictures Copenhagen

Producers on the Move 2011 – Denmark


- A graduate of Copenhagen’s University, Jesper Morthorst produced Birgitte Stærmose’s Room 304, whose Danish release is scheduled for October 20

Jesper Morthorst • Alphaville Pictures Copenhagen

While his first feature production, Room 304 [+see also:
film review
film profile
, has still not been domestically released – SF Film-Filmcompagniet will launch it on October 20 – Danish producer Jesper Morthorst presented Birgitte Stærmose’s film in competition at the latest Karlovy Vary International Film Festival.

Starring Mikael Birkkjær, Stine Stengade, David Dencik and Trine Dyrholm, this multi-plot ensemble drama scripted by Kim Fupz Aakeson is set in a Copenhagen hotel room and depicts the visitors whose lives intersect by accident or fate.

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A graduate of Copenhagen’s University (BA in film, media) and the Super 16 Film School, Morthorst is credited for a series of award-winning shorts, including Stærmose’s Out of Love, which won a Danish Robert, a first prize in Stockholm and an EFA nomination.

Participating in European Film Promotion’s Producer on the Move programme at this year’s Cannes International Film Festival, he has also produced a number of films supported by the Danish Film Institute’s scheme for emerging talents and new methods of filmmaking.

Cineuropa: Why did you choose theproducer’s chair?
Jesper Morthorst : When I was reading film and media at the University of Copenhagen, I thought I should be film journalist and critic, but since I started to work with film, television and music videos at Nimbus Film eight years ago, I have wanted to be a producer, and a good one. Of course you must know how to update Excel spreadsheets and stick to budgets, but it is equally important to have a human insight and an intimate understanding of the director’s visions which you should help transfer to the screen.

Anything you are particularly good at yourself – and definitely not?
Probably I am pretty good at spotting new talent, and I have a rather strong gut feeling for recognizing the potential of a project, even at a very early stage. When I have identified the prospect of a director or a film I hold on to it, until it has been realized, even if other people have their doubts about it.

On the other hand, I am not very good at organizing my own time – I have often been caught working on too many things simultaneously. I find it damned difficult to say no to a project if I can see something fantastic in it, but it has cost me a few undertakings I would have loved to finish, simply because I was too busy.

In any case it is important to be aware of both your strengths and your weaknesses, then put the blinds on and get started. I think there is a strong connection between what you are into andwhat you are good at; focus is a great virtue for a film producer.

Why did you leave Nimbus for Alphaville?
Nimbus is in no way a small company, and after six years I thought it was time to further step into character as a producer with a special focus on art house films, also to join a group of creative people sharing this focus. Alphaville is owned by director Christoffer Boe and producer Tine Grew Pfeiffer, otherwise we are two producers, Caroline Schlüter, all dedicated to art house and quality films with an international potential.

You have also made a few documentaries?
They only came up when fiction directors I was working with suddenly had a brilliant idea for a documentary I just couldn’t refuse. They were funny to do, but both my heart and my competence lie with fiction.

What’s currently on your agenda?
As mentioned I am packaging Stærmose’s second feature, Julie’s Face, a modern interpretation of Swedish playwright August Strindberg’s Miss Julie (1888) and scripted by Peter Asmussen, who has written several Simon Staho films and, most recently, Bille August’s The Passion of Marie. As in Room 304 Trine Dyrholm will play the lead.

I am also developing Madame Arthur, Louise ND Friedberg’s second feature and follow-up on TheExperiment, set at Copenhagen’s legendary nightclub, then the Danish version of New York’s Studio 54. It is a a coming-of-age story among young boys in an extreme milieu about to crack with the growth of AIDS in the 1980s.

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