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‘Klovn’ poster too raunchy for some Danes

The Danish comedy film ‘Klovn Forever’ is a hit in the theatres but not everyone is happy about a provocative image promoting the film in the public sphere.

'Klovn' poster too raunchy for some Danes
Appropriate?
The 2010 Danish film ’Klovn the Movie’, a squirm-inducing comedy relying heavily on sex jokes and one awkward situation after the other, was a domestic hit in Denmark and earned a re-release on the US market in 2012. 
 
Expectations were thus high for the 2015 follow-up ‘Klovn Forever’, which takes its premise of overly-hormonal sex-obsessed humour to new awkward levels. The movie has been a hit at the box office, with the third largest opening weekend in Danish film history. 
 
But the film’s attempts to push the limits of good taste have not been without criticism. A number of critics have said that the movie is more embarrassing than funny and the Media Council for Children and Young People (Medierådet) slammed the film as “bordering on pornographic”.
 
“The film has a humorous mood that is dominated by sexualized language and contains a number of scenes with explicit and very direct sexual depictions. In several scenes adults are seen having intercourse in different positions in many of the scenes are bordering on pornographic,” the council said according to the website Ekkofilm.dk
 
An image promoting the movie that features stars Casper Christiansen and Frank Hvam naked from the waste down and posed in the sexual position known as ’69’ has also led to complaints. 
 
A censored version of the poster. Click on the image for the uncensored version.
 
A censored version of the poster. Click on the image for the real deal.
An Aalborg woman successfully lobbied to have the explicit image removed from a bus stop that her three children, aged six to 12, use everyday. 
 
“I think it’s a half-pornographic photo that is shoved in your face. When you are out in public, the posters that are hanging at bus stops should be something acceptable for both children and adults to see,” Elisabeth Knudsen told regional broadcaster TV2 Nord
 
Knudsen succeeded in getting the poster removed from her local bus stop and filed an official complaint to the Danish Consumer Ombudsman (Forbrugerombudsmanden).
 
The tabloid Ekstra Bladet also ran a recent article with reader complaints about the poster. 
 
“I lost my sunglasses and almost threw up when I saw the giant poster with the guys from Klovn hanging here in Søborg. I’m normally not a prude but this crossed the line. And you should also think about the children,” 77-year-old Åse S wrote in to the paper. 
 
“They’re lying there looking into each other’s rear ends. It is pure porn and it isn’t fun to drive by it with my grandchildren, who curiously ask me: ‘What is that all about?’,” another reader, Kirsten, wrote. She filed an official complaint with Greve Council over the poster. 
 
Despite the assorted complaints, the ad in question is still displayed throughout Denmark and tickets for ‘Klovn Forever’ continue to sell briskly. 

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FILM

How Danish Oscar-nominated dark booze comedy was inspired by director’s tragic loss

‘Another Round’ (Danish title: ‘Druk’), a film about a pact by four world-weary Danish schoolteachers to spend every day drunk for a loosely scientific "experiment," was always going to walk a fine line between comedy and darkness.

How Danish Oscar-nominated dark booze comedy was inspired by director’s tragic loss
Director Thomas Vinterberg talking to press in Denmark. Photo: Emil Helms/Ritzau Scanpix

Director Thomas Vinterberg wrote his script, originally a play, upon realising many of the world’s great historic feats were made by people regularly intoxicated on alcohol — the very same substance that can rip lives and families apart.

But four days into shooting, Vinterberg’s daughter was killed in a car crash. He somehow still finished the uniquely funny, tender and tragic film — which has earned him a rare Oscar nomination for best director. 

“The movie was always meant to be life-affirming and full of love, and bare to some extent… raw,” Vinterberg told AFP in an interview via Zoom. 

“But the tragedy that happened in my life left all defenceless and open.”

Starring as the teachers are four of Vinterberg’s close friends and collaborators, including former 007 villain Mads Mikkelsen, who all spent the shoot doing “everything they could to make me laugh in these circumstances.”

“There was so much love on the set — and I guess you can see that on the screen,” said Vinterberg, whose movie is a favourite to take home the Oscar for best international film on Sunday.

While the film is clearly about alcohol, it is also “about living inspired, about forgetting about yourself, about being curious, and being in the moment and all that comes with drinking.”

Those life-affirming elements were inspired by his daughter Ida, who was due to play Mikkelsen’s daughter, and whose real-life friends play classmates who participate in a joyous teen drinking competition around a lake.

“There’s an alarming bunch of people and countries who connected to this thing about drinking,” joked Vinterberg.

“Yes, they drink differently in California — they put the bottle in a [paper] bag — whereas in Denmark, teenagers run around in the streets with bottles out,” he said.

“But it seems that the film connects on a different level, and hopefully we succeeded in elevating this film… to a movie about something more.”

Humour is not always associated with Vinterberg, co-founder of the ascetic Dogme 95 filmmaking movement with Lars Von Trier, and director of movies tackling issues such as child abuse including “The Celebration” and “The Hunt.” 

But Vinterberg, 51, has often defied categorization. The famous Dogme 95 “manifesto” imposing strict naturalistic limits on directors was always half serious, half tongue-in-cheek.

And while he has dabbled in Hollywood — for instance 2015’s “Far From the Madding Crowd” starring Carey Mulligan, also an Oscar nominee this year — his most widely acclaimed films are often his most Danish and local.

“It seems like when I dig in my own garden, that’s when people really get interested, also abroad,” he said.

The universal themes of “Another Round” may partly explain how Vinterberg landed one of just five Oscar best director nods, for a non-English-language film (fellow nominee Lee Isaac Chung’s “Minari” is in Korean and English).

“The pleasures of alcohol, but also the destructive side of drinking, have been around for thousands of years, in all cultures almost,” said Vinterberg. 

The director served his cast booze during rehearsals, and they watched Russian YouTube videos together to observe episodes of extreme inebriation.

“We needed to see these characters being in the zone,” he recalled. “It wasn’t like they were very drunk, actually, but there was alcohol.”

On set, however, everyone was sober, Vinterberg said — “they had to act, basically, which I think they did well.”

Much as the production of “Another Round” is a story of contrasts — tragedy and camaraderie, humor and philosophy — the fates of the teachers diverge when the temptation of booze takes hold to varying degrees with each of them.

But the movie itself deliberately “did not want to moralize” or “make an advertisement for alcohol,” said Vinterberg.

“Very importantly, I did not want to have a message.”

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