Thomas Vinterberg’s ‘Jagten’ (‘The Hunt’) has been out for so long they will be releasing DVD anniversary editions before its makers take to the red carpet at the Dolby Theater in Los Angeles next February on Oscar night.
But first they will have to see off the opposition. While ‘Jagten’ is a strong favourite to get the nod as its country’s entry in the 2013 Best Foreign Language Film category come September 26, thanks partly due to its inclusion among the nominations at the 2012 Golden Globes earlier this year, there are two other films in the running.
The first, Michael Noer's ‘Northwest’, is an acclaimed crime drama set in a rundown Copenhagen neighbourhood, but its location might work against it. The Danish Oscar Committee, which in its own words is “set up by the Danish Film Institute and film industry organisations”, will be acutely aware that three of the four Danish films shortlisted for the award over the last decade all share one thing in common: they are not entirely set in Denmark.
‘Superclásico’ (2011), ‘Hævnen’ (‘In a Better World’, 2010, which won the Oscar) and ‘Efter brylluppet’ (‘After the Wedding’, 2006) were all at least partially set overseas. The only exception was last year’s entry, ‘En kongelige affære’ (‘A Royal Affair’). As Henrik Bo Nielsen, the committee chairman and head of the DFI, explained in 2012, the committee chooses films that it believes have the greatest “international potential”. This year, it has also chosen three films that have all received DFI funding.
The second, Joshua Oppenheimer's documentary ‘The Act of Killing’, is set in Indonesia and might fancy its chances of causing an upset. The harrowing film, which includes extensive interviews with some of the perpetrators of the Indonesian genocide in the mid-1960s, was hailed by many critics as one of the finest films of 2012. Nominating a documentary might sound like a curveball, but it’s been done before: most recently with 'De fem benspænd' (‘The Five Obstructions’) in 2004, although it failed to make the shortlist.
‘Jagten’, meanwhile, needs little introduction. Starring the country’s most recognised star, Mads Mikkelsen, who scooped the Best Actor award at Cannes in 2012, at which the film picked up the Prize of the Ecumenical Jury – yes, 15 months ago – it tells the story of a kindergarten teacher falsely accused by a young girl of sexually abusing her.
Despite premiering at Cannes in May 2012 and being released in a further 20 countries last year, ‘Jagten’ was not released in Denmark until January. However, despite rumours that it was running scared from both ‘En kongelige affære’ and the eventual Oscar winner ‘Amour’, the filmmakers told The Copenhagen Post in January that the film was held back to help its chances of being included on the Biografklub Danmark list, which guarantees the club’s 200,000 members will pay to see it.
And besides, in the case of the Best Foreign Language Film, it is the domestic not the US release date that dictates which year it is eligible for the award in, and the release deadline is set by the respective film institute (normally in August or September) and not December 31.