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Established 1995 filmfestivals.com serves and documents relentless the festivals community, offering 92.000 articles of news, free blog profiles and functions to enable festival matchmaking with filmmakers.

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Europa, Europa-Felix Takes the Danes

For his "coming of age", the European Film Award- formerly known as Felix- has come for the first time to Scandinavia, to the lovely and lively -but horribly expensive- fairy tale capital of Denmark, home of the world's oldest, continuous monarchy - representatives of which will royally grace the 21st EFA Ceremony on- perhaps aptly enough- St Nicholas's Day (or December 6th for humbug-free non-believers and infidels, though I must chose my words carefully in multi-culti København).

This compact, clean, and friendly city seems to have been mildly gripped by Europhile film fever all week- every paper on the punctual train from airport to the cathedral-like Central Station carries proud articles on the event, lists down-town cinemas screening nominated features, and has prominent photos of the Danish stars who are candidates or presenters.Even in the streets near my hotel, late at night, usherettes call out to me titles of short-listed entries in a dozen tongues (well that's what I hope some of these dusky dames were saying). The well-equipped Danish Film Institute is packed with an afternoon audience- many of whom have actually bought tickets(-on Friday 5th December )for EFA Chairman Wim Wenders to give an engaging Master Class (capably hosted in fluent English by local cineaste Christoffer Boe), screening two recently-completed shorts shot in Africa (most striking perhaps War in Peace, set in a rudimentary cinema where the audience seems mesmerised by viewing Black Hawk Dawn on DVD, although having experienced similar horrors themselves in real life). The comfortable auditorium of the Danish Cinematheque , a short walk from the historic Round Tower, one of the first observatories built for viewing the stars, is packed with an attentive crowd who hear Wenders speak with insight and interest about his work, the overlapping between documentary and fiction, his abandonment of the pre-scripted, pre-storyboarded features("for Paris, Texas we wrote a fake script just to get the financing") and his wish now for the place to become a character in his films"-but I had to make five or six films before I could free myself of plot-I only made two period movies,but period movies really suck-I did my worst work that way.Now the places are there first and I write for the place-locations have character as well...Our sense of who we are and what we are is defined by local colours and languages and taste - that is the greatest asset of European Cinema."

He has returned from living in the States to Berlin, and teaches in Hamburg now, but at the Art School not at a film school "as I can be more free there".

Later that night, the same cinema is apparently so sold out for a Conversation with the not-so-dusky Dame Judi Dench (here to receive a well-deserved- if somewhat premature- Lifetime Achievement Award), that I decided instead to board a pullman for a lengthy drive out to the celebrated Danish Film School, where the EFA members and other professional guests are treated to a presentation of tutors and students, and the official handing over of the Eurimages award to two eminently capable lady producers, who have long sustained the later work of Danish legend-in-his-lifetime director, Lars von Trier, co-creator of the Dogme manifesto, a clip from whose DFS graduation short was also screened.A sparkling reception followed.

I spent what remained of the night in the Tivoli Gardens, one of the world's first entertainment-parks, brightly lit with Christmas decorations and still an elegant refuge in the heart of the city, fondly remembered from my own holiday visits as a child,watching such living legends as Marlene Dietrich and Eartha Kitt perform in summers long gone in the still-shimmering Concert Hall.Even the Danish TV seems to have got in on the Eurocinemania act- I returned to find on my tiny hotel TV, as a judiciously-programmed midnight movie, Fellini's "Otto e Mezzo"-in the original version with sub-titles,certo."E una festa la vita", as the character says in Federico's own last-minute substitution of a festive finale to a film on the tragedy of a director with nothing to say....A promising curtain-riser to Europe's annual attempt to emulate the Hollywood Oscars-speriamo!
Philip Bergson

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