Ole Christian Madsen • Director
by Annika Pham
One of the key members of the new wave of Danish directors, who graduated from the Danish Film School in the early 1990s, Ole Christian Madsen was launched on the international festival circuit with his Dogma film Kira’s Reason: A Love Story (2001). Today, a regular Nimbus Filmscollaborator, he is able to choose his production rhythm, from bigger to smaller budget films. While working on the editing of the Danish WWII drama Flame & Citron [+see also:
film profile] – one of the biggest productions ever made in Denmark, with German and Czech co-producers – he told Cineuropa about his great pleasure in shooting it in the Czech capital, as well as about Prague [+see also:
film profile], the film that will bring him back to the Czech Republic for Variety’s Critics’ Choice programme at the Karlovy Vary Film Festival.
Cineuropa: You brilliantly filmed a marital break-up in Kira’s Reason: A Love Story. What made you go back to that theme six years and two films later, with the same lead actress?
Ole Christian Madsen: Basically, I’ve always wanted to make films about relationships that are close to my own personal life. Both films are based on a personal experience with marital life and relationships. They are very much related and at the same time very different. I used the actress Stine Stengade again because she can portray all the sides to a woman: dark, bright and wild.
As a general rule, I try to make a bigger movie then a smaller one. Prague was a smaller budget film after Angels in Fast Motion (2005). That rhythm gives you a feeling of freedom. With bigger budget films it’s very tough, very heavy to do the production, the editing, plus it costs a lot of money. Whereas with a smaller movie, you have perhaps only 10 meetings and you can start shooting. So you buy yourself freedom with that type of rhythm.
The second reason why I directed Prague is that I think you should make films from where you are in your life. When I do a drama, I want the characters to be exactly my age…When I’ll turn 80, the characters will be 80!
Both Kira’s Reason and Prague were co-written respectively with Morgens Rukov and Kim Fupz Aakeson. Is that something you enjoy doing, sharing the writing with an established scriptwriter?
In the beginning of the writing process, I like to discuss the characters with someone, the various angles of the film, the structure of the drama. After a certain point, I like to do it on my own. Morgens Rukov was never really writing with me and was credited as development coordinator but with Kim Fupz Aakeson it was different. We started out writing in Prague. We stayed 10 days in a hotel, writing the basis for the script. The imaginary power of one person is too small. You need the imaginary power of others as well to get the best out of an idea.
You’ve shot two movies back to back in Prague. How was your experience from a cultural and artistic standpoint?
Czech crews are perhaps among the best in the world. Their craftsmanship – set building for instance – is at a very high level and they really respect the project they work on. They are concentrated and do their best to accomplish a specific mission or make an idea come true. My experience on Prague made me do parts of Flame & Citron there as well. Because of the financing, we had to shoot some of the scenes of Flame & Citron in Germany and in Denmark, but if I had had the choice I would probably have done most of the filming in Prague.
How would you describe Flame & Citron?
It’s a very expensive film for Denmark (over €6m). It’s set during WWII and the German occupation of Denmark and is about an inner circle of activists who were killing Germans and Danish informers. Their fight became more and more radical, almost like terrorism. So it’s quite a controversial subject matter. I’m very curious about how people will react to it in Denmark.
Then I will do a third smaller film about relationships. It will be my "relationships trilogy"! It will be about a couple that has nothing in common at all. No common values, no common ideas. The only thing that connects them is love.
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