This isn’t a ‘Hunt’ for an Oscar, producers of ‘Jagten’ say

Filmmakers say inclusion on the Biografklub Danmark list is the reason for the release date delay, rather than strategy to boost their Academy Award hopes

Thomas Vinterberg’s ‘Jagten’ (‘The Hunt’) has already won three awards from the Cannes Film Festival, another from the European Film Awards, and hordes of international acclaim – and the film hasn’t even premiered in Denmark yet.


While Nikolaj Arcel’s ‘En kongelig affære’ (‘A Royal Affair’) was sent off in September to battle for the best foreign language film Oscar and made the nine-film shortlist on December 21, ‘Jagten’ stayed under cotton wool, despite making its premiere at Cannes in May.


Indeed, by the time it finally enjoys its domestic release on January 10, Denmark will become the 21st country to show the drama.


But while international internet film forums have been rife with speculation regarding the real intentions of delaying the domestic release, it would appear that the main objective of the late release is not the ‘Jagten’ for the 2013 Oscar, but its inclusion as one of the seven films on the Biografklub Danmark list, which guarantees the club’s 200,000 members will pay to see it. While the tickets are only half-price, it means many members end up seeing films they wouldn’t have normally chosen. 


Besides, according to the official rules of the best foreign language film Oscar category, it is not the US release date but the domestic release date that determines whether a film is eligible, and the release deadline is normally the end of September or, as it was this year, in mid-August. 


According to the rules, only one picture can be submitted by each country each year – and while ‘En kongelig affære’, which was released in Denmark in March and chosen as Denmark’s submission in August, is a formidable opponent, ‘Jagten’ only had to delay its release by three months to avoid it, not seven.


The rivalry is somewhat reminiscent of the one in the late 1980s between ‘Babette’s Feast’ and ‘Pelle the Conqueror’, which contested several awards, including the 1988 Golden Globe, but crucially not the best film in a foreign language Oscar, which they respectively won for 1987 and 1988. While ‘Pelle the Conqueror’ was released in 1987, it wasn’t until December so it became eligible for the following year.


Still, the rumours persist. 


“You can twist the advantages and disadvantages 20 different ways looking for a reason,” Henrik Bo Nielsen, the CEO of the Danish Film Institute, told The Copenhagen Post. “But the process has been filled with so many rumours about the delays all the way back to Cannes that I’ve long ago given up.”


Also speaking to this newspaper, the producers of the film denied the speculation, pointing to an explanation given in a press release.


“We’ve known from the very start that ‘Jagten’ had to open on January 10,” Sisse Graum, a producer for the film, said in the press release. “But after the great success in Cannes, we of course looked at whether we could move the [Danish] release forward.”


But according to Graum, the inclusion on the Biografklub Danmark 2013 list was the deciding factor. 


“Biografklub Danmark has chosen ‘Jagten’, and we wanted the film included in the club,” Graum went on. “Therefore, we are now looking forward to January 10, when Danish cinema-goers will have the opportunity to see this film, which we are immensely proud of.”


Nielsen, meanwhile, is convinced that any motivations that may have determined the release date will soon be forgotten come January 10.


“It’s one of those cases where you have to say: this is just the way it is,” he said. “It’s just important that the Danish public supports the film. We’ve been waiting very eagerly.”

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