The International Film Festival Rotterdam’s (IFFR) reimagined 50th edition took place online from 1 to 7 February 2021, with the event’s activities and screenings shifting to the tailor-made platform IFFR.com.
Adapting to the latest restrictions in place due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, IFFR 2021 invited national audiences and accredited international guests to take part in premiere screenings. Visitors were also able to access the full February film programme, and the IFFR Pro Days (1 to 5 February) online.
This year, IFFR Talks was further expanded and featured renowned Danish actor Mads Mikkelsen, starring in the festival’s opening film Riders of Justice by director Anders Thomas Jensen.
“With the online platform at the heart of the reimagined format, we kept with our long-established tradition of innovation and experimentation and continue to offer a unique hub for our filmmaking community to access emerging film talent,” said festival director Vanja Kaludjercic.
“We looked forward to celebrating our 50th edition, kicking off our anniversary online with our community of makers, partners, supporters and audience,” she added, “The Festival took place through a February programme brimming with works by bold new voices and established filmmakers that we were sure would strike a chord.”
Anders Thomas Jensen, scriptwriter for filmmakers such as Susanne Bier and Kristian Levring, feels at home in many genres, yet his own directorial style sticks out. Like his previous works, including Just like Adam’s Apples (2005) and Men & Chicken (IFFR 2016), his latest film is a black comedy with a plot only he could come up with.
The film Riders of Justice starts with a series of sad events: a stolen bike, dismissal, a train accident. Coincidence or a causal link? Data analyst Otto (Nikolaj Lie Kaas) examines the matter, aided by his eccentric colleague Lennart (Lars Brygmann) and their even stranger friend Emmenthaler (Nicolas Bro). Together with professional soldier Markus (Mads Mikkelsen), who lost his wife in the train wreck, the men develop into angels of wrath.
The mission leads to results, though perhaps not the intended ones. The bone-dry humour and inimitable logic of Riders of Justice makes it another absurdist, yet educational and moving highlight in Jensen’s oeuvre.
With lead roles in films including Adam’s Apples (Anders Thomas Jensen, 2005), Valhalla Rising (Nicolas Winding Refn, 2009) and Jagten (Thomas Vinterberg, 2012), Mads Mikkelsen is one of the most high-profile faces in the highly successful Danish cinema.
He has also acted up a storm further afield, with audiences recognising him from blockbusters such as Doctor Strange, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, and of course the Bond film Casino Royale, in which he played villain Le Chiffre.
Mikkelsen, born in Copenhagen in 1965, discovered his acting talent late. He was a professional dancer for some 10 years before he made the decision to go to drama school.
His feature film debut was also his breakthrough, with Mikkelsen making an indelible impression as shaven-headed drugs dealer Tonny in Winding Refn’s box-office hit Pusher (1996).
Eight years later, Mikkelsen reprised the role in Pusher II, but in the meantime had proven his versatility as well as his love of striking hairstyles, in which respect his roles in the films of Anders Thomas Jensen stand out.
Jensen is more aware than most of how to make best use of Mikkelsen’s comic talents. The two Danes have now worked together five times – more if we count Jensen’s work as a screenwriter.
To what extent do they inspire one another? How does working on a Danish film compare to a Hollywood production? And what underlies Mikkelsen’s choice of roles? These and other questions will be covered in this Big Talk with the big-name Danish actor. The conversation will be moderated by film producer Rosa Bosch.