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Morten Hartz Kaplers • Director

An art film magician "does not reveal his tricks"

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Morten Hartz Kaplers • Director

A shared Tiger Award winner at the 2007 Rotterdam Film Festival, Morten Hartz Kaplers’ provocative mockumentary AFR [+see also:
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portrays the fictive, forbidden relationship between a young male prostitute (played by the director) and the current Danish prime minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen ("AFR", seen in archive footage), which initially blooms but ends fatally for both. Cineuropa spoke with the director of the film that offers a timely investigation into the mores of the country that saw its premier staunchly defend freedom of speech in the face of the international Muhammad cartoon controversy. Whether more controversy is on its way will be clear when AFR is released in Denmark on April 20.

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Cineuropa: What is the main drive behind AFR?
Morten Hartz Kaplers: When I first had the idea of doing this film, I simply thought it was too crazy not to do it. I would have never forgiven myself, though I had no idea of the problems associated with making it or any possible consequences. Rasmussen has said: “we are so free we can do anything here,” but first the cartoon controversy and now this film will or at least should show to what extent that is really true. AFR proves how the modern media can be manipulated; they often focus on virtual conflicts that happen thousands of miles away and can manipulate people to believe something they know from the start is a lie. AFR should make people think about what they consume when confronted with the output of the media.

AFR includes interviews with real Danish politicians as well as actors. How did you get them to co-operate on a film that involved the fictional death of the current premier?
Work on the film took three and a half years and was done in secret. Even the actors had no idea what it was for, and I had to use tricks to get what I wanted. For the interviews with the politicians, I gave them a conceptual explanation but nothing of what they say was scripted. Exactly how I did it I won’t tell; a magician does not reveal his tricks!

Could you explain how the gay relationship is part of the concept of AFR?
Do you want to know if I know if the Prime Minister is gay? I know nothing of that sort! Since 1967, there has been no gay censorship in Denmark and now gays can get married and write and think what they like. But if the country’s Prime Minister were gay, would that be generally accepted as well or not? If not, are we then really as free as we think we are? In many parts of the world, people cannot love and live in the way they would like, which is a basic human right. The upside of the relationship between my character and AFR is his early influence on his lover. Because of their love, AFR develops into a sort of Ghandi of the western world and Emil leaves the riot group he was part of and the prostitution business. But love can also be very destructive, as the second part of the film shows. In Denmark, about half of the murders are crimes passionnels.

How do you think the film will be received in Denmark?
So far, we have had a market screening for cinema owners and I was a bit worried that we would be beaten up, but everyone was extremely positive – though they were definitely provoked. Even in the provinces that hardly get less commercial fare, cinemas wanted to book it.

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