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In a fiercely competitive year for Danish film, ‘A Royal Affair’ is crowned its country’s nominee for the Oscars

Off the back of its success at the Berlin International Film Festival, Danish film ‘A Royal Affair’ has been chosen to represent its country at the 2012 Oscars in the Best Foreign Language Film category.

The Danish Oscar Submitting Committee, which is made up of representatives of the country’s film industry, last Friday selected Nikolaj Arcel’s film as the national entry, selecting it from a shortlist of three that also included Susanne Bier’s ‘Den skaldede frisør’ (‘Love Is All You Need’) and Bille August’s ‘Marie Krøyer’.

The Zentropa film, which stars Denmark’s most famous actor Mads Mikkelsen, recently picked up two Silver Bears in Berlin for Best Actor (Mikkel Følsgaard) and Best Script (Nikolaj Arcel and Rasmus Heisterberg), and in the UK recorded the best opening weekend ever for a Danish-language film.

But regardless of the film’s accolades, the decision to put it up as Denmark’s Oscar representative was not an easy one considering the high calibre of films released recently, according to selectors.

“It has been a difficult decision. This past year has been excellent for Danish film with many titles of unique international class,” said Henrik Bo Nielsen, the CEO of the Danish Film Institute and head of the selection committee.

Once it has reviewed the submissions for Best Foreign Language Film, the Oscar Academy will announce a shortlist of nine nominations a week before a final shortlist of five are confirmed on January 10 ahead of the awards show on February 26.

‘A Royal Affair’, which opened in Denmark on March 29, has sold more than half a million tickets, which though impressive, is not outstanding in a year when the country’s cinema is booming.

Two other contenders that missed out on being shortlisted for the Oscar submission were ‘Jagten’ (‘The Hunt’), which took three awards at Cannes this year, and ‘Hvidsten gruppen’ (‘The Village: One family’s sacrifice will let a country live’).

‘Hvidsten gruppen’ has been the country’s most watched film so far, grossing 53.7 million kroner, against third-placed ‘A Royal Affair’, which has only grossed 35.8 million kroner.

But even those figures are likely to look impressive when compared to the takings of a whole glut of Danish films that are being released during September and October.

A total of nine Danish films are being released over a six-week period, making competition for box office sales all the more fierce. The tight cluster of releases will account for 42 percent of the year’s Danish releases.

Kim Pedersen, the president of Danske Biografer, told Jyllands-Posten it was against all logic to saturate the market with so many films at once.
“We often hear filmmakers complain that they have it tough. But now they are really starting to drown,” said Pedersen.

While Klaus Hansen, the head of the producers’ association, Producentforeningen, told the newspaper the lopsided distribution was “crazy” and “a waste of money”.

“Some films will unnecessarily lose significant revenue because there are limits on how many films people can afford to see in such quick succession,”
said Hansen.

While the Danish Film Institute has lobbied distributors to spread out the releases more evenly, the body has no authority to regulate the market.

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