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Charming with cinema

By Xu Fan | China Daily | Updated: 2018-10-12 07:10
Danish filmmaker Bille August visits Beijing for a limited viewing of his latest film, A Fortunate Man. [Photo by Feng Yongbin/China Daily]

Veteran Danish filmmaker, Bille August, screens his latest epic in Beijing.

Only eight filmmakers have so far won the Palme d'Or twice, and Bille August is among them. It is the top award given at the annual Cannes Film Festival in France.

Nearly one year after the general screening in China of his directorial film The Chinese Widow that is set during World War II, August recently visited Beijing for a limited viewing of his latest epic A Fortunate Man. The film made its international debut at the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art in the city on Sept 27.

The Danish filmmaker says he hopes the film will be released in Chinese theaters as well.

Adapted from Nobel Prizewinning writer Henrik Pontoppidan's 1904 book, Lucky Per, the 168-minute film recreates 19th-century Denmark in spectacular sets. Starring native actor, Esben Smed Jensen, as the protagonist Per, the story follows the young man's ambition to break free from his father's patriarchal hold in Jutland to climb social ladders in Copenhagen, where he marries into a rich family, but encounters new hurdles.

The charm of cinema, according to August, 69, is to make the audience relate to the world on the other side of the big screen. The filmmaker says while Lucky Per is one of the greatest Danish literary works, only a small number of young moviegoers in his country may have read the book.

For that reason, he sees the box-office performance of the film in Denmark since its release there on Aug 30, as successful.

"American blockbusters are dominating Danish cinemas like what is happening (in other parts of the world), but it (the high revenue of his film) shows that audiences also need stories with substance," said August at the Danish Cultural Center in Beijing during his recent visit.

The film was made with a budget of $8 million, which August admits was one of the biggest challenges, as that is considered expensive by Danish standards.

August was trained as a cinematographer and photographer in Stockholm before joining the National Film School of Denmark where he graduated in cinematography in 1973.

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