Kristian Levring is the last of the four Danish directors behind the Dogma 95 manifesto to make his film. His pic, “The King Is Alive,” was shot in Africa according to the bare-bones filmmaking principles outlined by Dogma and stars an international cast, including Jennifer Jason Leigh, Janet McTeer, Bruce Davison and Romane Bohringer.
“That’s why it’s taken me so long to get it off the ground. With a budget of $2.5 million, it’s the most expensive of the four films,” Levring says from his editing room in London.
The pic is about a group of bus passengers who get stranded in the Namibian desert. To keep busy they decide to stage “King Lear.”
Levring emphasizes that his film is not “a King Lear film,” but rather about how people are affected by isolation.
“It was a fantastic shoot. We shot the film in chronological order and all the actors were there all the time,” he says.
Levring, 42, made his first feature, an action pic called “Shot From the Heart,” in 1985. But since then the helmer has been shooting commercials around the world, including award-winning spots for BMW, Volvo, Carlsberg and Electrolux. Over the years, he’s been offered a lot of features, but they didn’t interest him. It was not until he got involved with his Dogma cohorts that he felt ready to do another feature. (Using the Dogma principles, the other directors made such award winning pics as “The Celebration” and “Mifune.”)
“I shot (‘King’) on video, using four cameras, and the freedom has been fantastic,” Levring says. “People ask me if I feel any pressure, with this being a Dogma film — I don’t. Instead, I saw it as a big chance to doing something other than the standard thrillers I’ve been offered. Maybe that’s why I haven’t felt any pressure.”
Levring hopes to have his film ready in time for Cannes Intl. Film Festival consideration.