"The Art of Crying":The Art of Balancing
By Annika Koppel, FIRPRESCI
Danish helmer Peter Schønau Fog's tragic-comedy The Art of Crying (Kunsten at græde i kor, 2006) deals with the delicate and dark matter of child abuse in a family, where the father terrorizes all of its members with his constant crying and suicide threats.
Bo Hr. Hansen wrote the screenplay, which is based on a novel by Erling Jepsen. The story is told through the eyes of an eleven-year-old boy Allan (Jannik Lorenzen). He is one of those witty boys, with big glasses, who not only observes the world around him curiously but is ready to take some action if needed. He adores his father, as children usually do, although the father obviously has some serious mental problems. His mother seems to not notice anything and sleeps, when help is needed. Allan wants him to be happy. The father likes to recite eulogies at funerals and that is the real art of crying. Allan even lends him a helping hand to make sure there are enough funerals and that his father would be happy. At least, he imagines he does.
Allan also insists that his bigger sister Sanne (Julie Kolbech) goes downstairs to comfort his father when he is crying. Their big brother has already moved away. When he visits the family, it begins to become clear what kind of comforting is needed. The eleven-year-old boy is innocent and poignant in his belief that the world of grown-ups is normal and good in every sense although the surroundings do not support this. For example, his aunt has turned out to be like a caricature; the father's birthday and family get-together is a real mess — these are the comic moments of the film. Nobody listens to the others and finally the dad cries again.
Jannik Lorenzen is very good in Allan's role; Jesper Asholt plays a credible monster-pervert father. The mother's character raises some questions, which is not to say that she has no character at all as she does have a tired "leave me alone" attitude. Only the episode where she helps Sanne to get ready for the party suggests how tightly she has been controlled by the father.
The film shows step-by-step how the boy's understanding of good and evil will increase and he begins to notice that his father's crying is the reason for the others' discomfort. The father makes his daughter's emerging relationship with Per (Sune Thomsen)fail, sends Allan to supervise their meeting and after that complains to the police. This is a turning point when Allan's devotion to dad starts to crumble.
The story is beautifully told in the film; there is nothing redundant or trivial. It has been difficult to handle a subject that has been taboo for a long time in a way that would not leave the audience disturbed and frightened, or even disgusted. That was not the purpose. On the other hand, there was a big risk that it would turn into comedy — fortunately this did not happen. Fog artfully balances between these two extremes, keeping a sensible and delicate approach, mixing humor, grief, violence, manipulation and hypocrisy into a bitter cocktail of realism. It has been a real art of balancing.
The director believes that this film is a chance to address the serious subject matter of child abuse in a way that people could not turn away from, by telling the story in the tone and viewpoint of a young boy. It's true, that this subject matter is far too important to be ignored and maybe his hope to be able to create awareness about a huge problem within families finally proves fruitful. This problem can only be solved if someone dares to take on the responsibility to rise up, interact and talk out loud.
Peter Schønau Fog has said it loud. Even if the film does not change the world, this is at least considerable reason for making a film. Definitely The Art of Crying is a good film and a memorable debut.
Annika Koppel© FIPRESCI 2007
Annika Koppel is a film critoic in Estonia. She works for the newspaper "Postimees" and the magazines "Sirp", "Theater. Music. Cinema."
compassion, grace and wit. Jonathan Holland, Variety
Emotionally devastating and astonishingly mature, this is a unique feature debut. Steve Gravestock, Toronto International Filmfestival
A young Scandinavian genius tackles Bergmanesque themes of family taboos and relationships with pathos, humor, and a loving eye. Chiseko Tanaka, Tokyo International Film Festival
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
"The Art of Crying":The Art of Balancing
Monday, October 22, 2007
(Well - that's according to rankinghigh.blogspot.com)
Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden have all chosen their official Oscar entries for next year's Academy Awards. Peter Schønau Fog’s masterpiece The Art of Crying was chosen 2007's best picture by the Nordic Council and that gives the film a major boost compared to the other films that were competing against it. Finland's and Iceland's official Oscar submissions were also nominated for the Nordic Council's Film Prize and lost - so their Oscar chances are not as high as Denmark's. Sweden and Norway did not compete for the award with their Oscar hopefuls. Here's a quick look at the five films from the Nordic area...
Continue reading here!
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
The jury's explains its choice of winner:
Seen through the eyes of a young boy 'The Art of Crying' depicts the absurdity and even horror of family life with laconic humour. Disturbing and entertaining at the same time the film handles the difficult subject of child abuse sharply but humanely. It boldly reveals the repressive forces at work underneath the sunny surface of a small rural town.
‘Art of Crying’ takes top Nordic prize
By The Copenhagen Post
Offentliggjort 10.10.07 kl. 10:00
Peter Schønau Fog’s masterpiece was chosen for yet another international award in taking this year’s Nordic Council Film Prize
The accolades keep piling up for Peter Schønau Fog, who will add the 2007 Nordic Council Film Prize to his collection of trophies for his powerful film ‘The Art of Crying’.
The council announced its award winners Tuesday. The official award ceremony will take place 31 October at the Danish Film Institute in Copenhagen.
Fog’s masterpiece about a child’s abused and troubled youth has garnered 13 international awards since its premier at the Toronto Film Festival in 2006. It has also been selected by the country’s film experts to compete for a nomination for an Oscar for best non-English language film.
‘The Art of Crying’ has done well in Danish cinemas since its screen release in April, selling enough tickets at the box office to make it the most successful non-comedy movie in Denmark this year.
The Nordic Council Film prize was created in 2005, with Danish director Per Fly winning the first award for his film ‘Manslaughter’. The award carries with it a monetary prize of DKK 350,000 (EUR 47,000).
It is given to an artistically originally film that draws on Nordic cultural talents and traditions.
My(Peter Schønau Fog) speech in danish:
Det er meget stort og overvældende at skulle modtage Nordisk Råds film pris. Tusinde tak.
Når jeg ser hvilke film ”Kunsten at græde i kor” har været oppe imod gør det mig meget ydmyg og taknemmelig. Det er film der hver især en er påmindelse om hvor meget vi i Norden kan lære meget om hinanden og derigennem ikke mindst om os selv. Så lad det være en opfordring til de nordiske distributører... (Her i København går Reprise vist som den eneste af filmene – det er slet og ret et mesterværk – så skynd jer ind og se Joachims film.)
Jeg vil gerne takke de mennesker, der har støttet mig gennem nogle meget hårde år.
Her tænker jeg på min vidunderlige kæreste Sine Ingemann, mine brødre Henrik og Morten og mine forældre Nana og Carl Erik. De skal have den største tak for det er dem jeg har grædt ud hos når urimelighederne er vokset til uoverstigelige store bjerge. Og de som giver mig troen tilbage på, at selv om jeg måtte kæmpe mod en direkte destruktiv mistillid ville det kunne lykkes at lave en film, som jeg kunne stå inde for.
Derudover vil jeg takke de, som valgte at gå loyalt og konstruktivt med i den retning som jeg mente var nødvendig. Her tænker jeg særligt på manuskriptforfatter Bo Hr. Hansen, fotograf Harald Paalgard, klipper Anne Østerud, tonemester Peter Schultz, komponist Karsten Fundal.
Til skuespillerne vil jeg blot sige jeg holder meget af jer, og nød hvert et øjeblik med jer, tusinde tak for det.
Jeg vil til Janniks og Julies forældre sige, hold op hvor har I nogen vidunderlige unger. I skal have en meget stor tak for jeres tillid til, at jeg kunne bringe dem igennem noget så vanvittigt som en filmproduktion på en ordentlig måde.
Tak til Erling Jepsen for din tillid til at jeg og vi kunne tage vare på dit livs historie på en anstændig vis.
Og til slut vil jeg takke sønderjyderne for uden jeres generøse hjælp ville det aldrig have lykkes at lave filmen ”Kunsten at græde i kor”, og uden jeres humor havde jeg nok ikke overlevet.
Jeg er meget taknemmelig og meget lettet over at jeg med Nordisk Råds Film pris kan hvile i troen på, at jeg har båret mit ansvar igennem på anstændigvis vis og nået i mål. Tak.
Sunday, October 07, 2007
International federation of film critics, FIPRESCI, awarded Danish debut feature The Art of Crying by Peter Schønau Fog which also received the Church of Iceland award, given out for the second time. The award was handed over by the Bishop of Iceland, Karl Sigurbjörnsson.
“Laughter and crying juxtapose in a quality film about difficult issues that raises questions concerning parental and societal responsibility. A young boy tells his family's story where violence and abuse lurks within the childhood home. The film deals delicately with issues that often are kept quiet and presents them with respect, understanding and sympathy. The Art of Crying raises awareness of the fragility of life, moves the audience and calls for discussion and responses,” is stated in the jury’s motivation.
Read about it here!
Monday, October 01, 2007
The Danish Oscar candidate THE ART OF CRYING / Kunsten at græde i kor will be screened in Los Angeles:
MONDAY, OCTOBER 8
Sunset5, Laemmle Theater
Laemmle's Sunset 58000 Sunset Blvd.West Hollywood,