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THE BENCH

Denmark, 2000 (MIFF 2002, Northern Lights)

Director: Per Fly

An incisive, witty and deeply moving drama about responsibility and solidarity. Per Fly's directorial debut tells the story of alcohol-ravaged Kaj in the sympathetic, straightforward style adopted in the best films of Ken Loach (particularly My Name is Joe, MIFF 1999) and Mike Leigh.

Kaj (a superb turn by one of Denmark's most prominent actors, Jesper Christensen, see also Minor Mishaps) is a stubborn man with a great deal of pride. The former master chef lives in a council flat. He has wasted his life, turned his back on a brilliant career in favour of binge drinking, and is now on a job-training scheme for the long-term unemployed, weeding for the dole.

When Kaj's daughter, with whom he has not been in touch for 19 years, moves into the same council estate, on the run from her violent husband, a change comes over Kaj. His initial instinct is to avoid her, but chance decrees that he ends up babysitting Jonas, her six-year-old son. For the first time in years Kaj has genuine responsibilities and must reach through an alcohol haze to protect his estranged loved ones.

Per Fly graduated from the National Film School of Denmark in 1993. He has directed several series for television and made commercials, music videos and shorts, including The Little Knight (1999) and the prizewinning Kalder Katrine! (1994). Prior to his feature film debut The Bench, Fly directed the animated feature Prop & Berta (2000).

See also...

MANSLAUGHTER

Denmark, 2005
A major domestic box office and critical success, Manslaughter bears the hallmarks that have made recent Danish cinema substantial and constantly challenging. Fifty-two-year-old Carsten (Jesper Chris… More »

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