ATJ: They’re these hybrids, right? Every time we have to talk with distributors, we have to talk about genre, because you need to put a damn genre on it. I hate genres in that sense. It’s a selling point, like having Italian or sushi, so that audiences will get exactly what they want, to laugh or cry. I think that’s so boring and old-fashioned. I love films that play with genres.
MM: It travels really differently, too. I’ve been with our others at festivals, for example in the Bahamas once with “The Green Butchers,” where it was nominated for an award. Since Thomas wasn’t there, I was there representing it. And when it won, there was a speech justifying why, and in their world it became clear it had played as a pure drama: heartfelt, dramatic, ultimately a heartbreaking story. And I was sitting there in the audience like, “Should I tell them it’s a comedy? Or should I just accept the award?”
ATJ: “Flickering Lights” won a horror film festival in Italy.
Mads, I must congratulate you on the success of “Another Round,” which won the Oscar for Best International Feature last month.
Both of you are considered guiding lights of the Danish film industry, and your respective bodies of work span decades. How has the Danish cinema evolved since you started, especially as it’s gained recognition worldwide with films like “Another Round” and this one?
ATJ: For me, the biggest thing about Danish filmmakers is that we are a very, very small community. We share ideas, and we help each other. It’s something that started with Lars von Trier and the Dogme 95 movement, really. I’ve seen the power of us reading each other’s scripts, and I read for other directors while letting my stories be read. Together, we’re better.
MM: Though Denmark can be placed on a map, there’s no coincidence in that sense that, “Oh, there’s a certain way to do it in Denmark, and anyone can pick that up and make a great film.” We just live in a time when there’s more than one or two really big talents making films. That couldn’t have been done in the ‘30s, maybe, but it’s happening now. But what’s unique is that our budgets are so small that, if you have talent and ambition as a director, and you make a film, it’s not the producer’s film—or 20 different producers’ film. Whatever’s in your heart is coming out on the screen. That’s a little unique compared to people dealing with $40-80 million films. If the director turns out to be great, it will come across.