CPH Post voices
The Director's Cut | There's no end of places like home
We all have our flaws – the guy lying down on the right has his concealed by his hand
When I landed on the icy shores of my adoptive country over 15 years ago, I honestly didn’t know what to expect. I had fallen in love and decided to give it a go and live in this part of the world, and why not?
Today, we are married and have two beautiful kids and I believe or hope I’m well-adjusted to the quirks of living here. It’s my home, it’s my kids’ home, and all of my professional life is here.
Where is home?
Happiest nation in the world? – let’s not get into that here! Someone asked me the other day: “What is home for you?” – and when I gave them the address of where I live, they retorted: “But you have an accent when you speak. Where were you born?”
I thought it was funny. Is home where you were born? Where you live? Where your kids are or where you work? Am I less Danish because I was born left of the hemisphere and not on sacred Viking territory?
To me these are silly questions, but they are questions you get asked when you have a funny accent.
And on another level, there is something very tribal about people’s regard to where you are from.
A city of surprises
I live near Copenhagen, very much a cosmopolitan city in many ways, but in others ways, it still has a lot of catching up to do to the rest of the world.
However, most of the folks I work with on my projects are open-minded, and I find it refreshing to work with them. Although things happen that still surprise me.
A little while back, I was doing some crowdfunding for a new feature film – a story loosely based on the Breivik murders.
I met a potential contributor and I was quickly struck by his casual racism.
He first asked: “What are you doing in Denmark?” I replied: “I live here and I’m married here.”
Then, he joked: “You could be a terrorist!” I shrugged it off because it was so surreal. In the end it was a strange meeting, but when I told my friends they went ballistic, whereas my reaction had been that it’s not his fault – that his inappropriateness was just a defence mechanism.
Embrace the flaws
I admire Denmark with all its flaws just as much as I admire Ireland and other countries with all of theirs – for sure, no country is perfect.
I remember how my girlfriend, now wife said: “If you can survive the first two years, you are cruising.” Then she handed me a book, ‘The Xenophobe’s Guide to The Danes’.
I remember laughing when I received it. It was a good but silly book, and I still have it.
My basic advice when you arrive? Be yourself, whether that’s a filmmaker, barman, waiter or lawyer; be open to cultural quirks and see them as challenging fun, but more importantly, bring your own quirks and traditions too.
Denmark needs them – and all will be hyggeligt!