Reception from Danish press is 'rotten,' says helmer

COPENHAGEN — Although most of its ceremony was in English, there was a palpable sense of local pride as the fourth edition of the Copenhagen International Film Festival got rolling on Thursday night in Denmark’s capital.

More than once, speakers on the stage cooed with pleasure that the fest was opening not just with a Danish film, and not just with a world premiere, but with a world premiere of “The Boss of It All,” the latest from Denmark’s most famous living director, Lars von Trier, who usually preems his work at bigger-named fests like Cannes, Berlin or Venice.

The event’s only major hitch was a no-show on stage from the famously eccentric von Trier, provoking just the tiniest display of sarcasm from the evening’s host, broadcaster Timm Vladimir who poked a bit of fun at the fact that “von Trier” wasn’t born with a “von” in his name.

After speeches from Copenhagen’s lady mayor Ritt Bjerregaard and the festival’s director Janne Giese, the bestowing of a lifetime achievement award to local thesping legend Ghita Norby (also prez of the competition jury this year’s fest), the thanking of sponsors, and a sneak peek montage of the pics showing in competition, it was time for … a booze and cigarette break, perhaps so organizers could have a little more time to see if von Trier would show up.

Finally, “The Boss of It All” unspooled, sans introduction from the still-absent helmer. Repping a low-budget, Danish-language departure from von Trier’s recent, international-star-laden efforts like “Manderlay,” “Dogville” and “Dancer in the Dark,” “Boss” offered an amusing if skittishly filmed comedy about an actor (Jens Albinus) who’s hired to play the non-existent owner of an IT company in order to help through the company’s sale to a temperamental Icelander (played by helmer Fridrik Thor Fridriksson).

It later transpired that von Trier was at the premiere, but had chosen to keep his head down, and was on hand to speak to the press later in the evening.

Reception was warm for “Boss” and the big-name (in Danish terms at least) cast that took the stage afterwards. The Danes upheld their rep for hospitality with a buffet of sushi, fruit, cheese and cold cuts for the post-screening party in the Imperial Cinema’s lobby.

However, Danish reviews for “Boss” were mixed. Speaking today von Trier said the reviews were “extremely rotten.”

Asked how much the film’s depiction of industrial relations is based on his experiences as a director, he said, “Of course, it’s based on things you’ve experienced in your life. Especially with actors, sometimes you have to play the bad guy and sometimes you have to play the good guy.”

Von Trier said he fancies making a horror film next. “Wasington,” the third part of the Dogville trilogy, is back-burnered for now.

CIFF ruffled local feathers when it launched four years ago, thus setting itself up against the long-running, non-competitive NAT Film Festival that unspools annually in late-March/early-April, which describes itself as Denmark’s biggest film event.

The rivalry seems to have died now after various personalities involved reshuffled around the film industry. NAT is staunchly marketed at local auds, whereas CIFF’s competition of Euro titles and new sidebar of industry only screenings has made it increasingly appealing to international visitors as well as Copenhagen residents.

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