Just Betzer, Oscar-winning Danish producer-distrib, died Thursday, Nov. 6, from a coronary at his home in Denmark. He was 59.
The son of an exhibitor in provincial Aarhus, Betzer was born into the business and started by managing the candy store in his father’s theater. At 17, he went to Copenhagen, where he became assistant producer to Bent Christensen, then head of productions at ASA, before he bought Panorama Film in 1968.
At Panorama, a leading independent producer-distrib, Betzer produced 34 features, including Astrid Henning-Jensen’s “Winterborn” (1978), which won the Silver Bear at Berlin.
Betzer was one of the first Danish distributors to realize the potential of video. In 1985, he sold his Danish interests to concentrate fully on international film producing. His greatest triumph, however, was a local production, Gabriel Axel’s “Babette’s Feast,” which won the 1988 foreign-language Oscar.
For a period he lived in the U.K. and in Hollywood before returning to his native Denmark three years ago. He had recently acquired the rights to Jane Aamund’s bestseller “Colorado Dreams” and was preparing a major international co-production to shoot in Prague next year.
Betzer is survived by a son, a daughter and two grandchildren.