He’s a Danish movie producer and co-founder of Zentropa, whose nickname is ‘Ålen’ (the eel).
So ... who is he again?
He is to Danish movie production what Aaron Spelling is to US melodrama: the man controlling the purse strings. He’s easy to spot in his colourful clothes and square glasses, always smoking a fat cigar with a big grin on his face – unless he’s watching children perform.
He doesn’t like children?
He might have three himself, but when he appeared as a judge on the Danish talent show ‘Talent 2008’, he quickly became known for telling (un)talented kids they were useless to their faces.
Besides that, where might I know him from?
He’s produced more than 100 films, winning many awards, since he co-founded Zentropa with Lars von Trier in 1992.
What kinds of films and prizes?
It all started with the Dogma films, but lately his awards have included two Silver Bears for ‘A Royal Affair’ and the 2010 Oscar for best foreign film for ‘Hævnen’ (‘In a Better World’).
I thought Susanne Bier won that
Technically, it was an award for the producer, although she did seem to claim it. Maybe she did it to spite him, as apparently, according to B.T. newspaper, he tried to strangle her many years ago.
Why did he do that?
Because she was both smarter and prettier than him - or so his story goes.
Any other interesting director ‘issues’?
In most other cases, it’s the directors who make his life difficult. Just last year, he had to deal with Von Trier’s Nazi comments at Cannes.
That’s a tough gig.
Ålen’s no stranger to controversy. At Zentropa, he hired a known paedophile, claiming he was a “good fellow”. He told Ekstra Bladet tabloid that “it sends a signal that Zentropa is a really tolerant company. Jesus was the first to nurture relations with prostitutes and thieves, so it´s something that we read in the Bible.”