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Denmark, 2001 (MIFF 2002, Documentaries)

Director: Robert M. Fox

Danish photographer Jacob Riis holds a rare accolade in the hearts of America, a country rarely known for recognising the power of foreigners to have a deep-seated effect on the way they live. In the late 1800s Riis left Denmark for what he expected to be a promised land. In New York's slums he found extreme poverty and deprivation. Riis fought back with his camera. Through the powerful lens of his photography, he eventually earned the respect of America's wealthy and influential, including President Roosevelt, as well as the subjects of his photography. The
book of his work, How the Other Half Lives, lead to worldwide social reforms, and is used to this day in US high schools and universities.

Danish documaker Robert Fox, the first person granted film rights to Riis' vast folio, has completed a lasting portrait of this 'passionate outsider'. Merging aspects of both Denmark's and America's histories, the film includes fascinating reconstructions of New York's slums - and the birth of the seething underbelly of the world's greatest metropolis - using both actors and local homeless people. Narrated by Coen Brothers regular and Scandinavian ex-pat, Peter Stormare.

Robert M. Fox (born in Copenhagen, 1963) has an MA in film and video studies from Middlesex University. He is the scriptwriter, director and producer of several internationally distributed documentaries and short films. His works include the prizewinning The Dolphin: A Gift from Allah (1997).

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