Retrospective | Mads Brügger

Cinema's Agent Provocateur

Taking greater risks than many others do to make a film, Mads Brügger — born in Denmark in 1972, program manager at Danish radio station Radio24syv, journalist, and editor — practices a novel form of first-person gonzo journalism. Instead of appearing as a neutral observer, he prefers to do the dirty deeds himself. His behavior ranges from cynicism to irony to unscrupulousness, never bothering with political correctness. Brügger deliberately crosses boundaries and continually puts himself in danger. His alter ego, a kind of performer, is reminiscent of Sacha Baron Cohen's BORAT, while his exposé style resembles that of Michael Moore. With a mixture of humor, provocation, and brazenness, the Danish filmmaker gets involved in daring adventures without knowing where they might lead him.

For example, for the TV documentary DANES FOR BUSH, he arrives in the middle of the 2004 US presidential race and claims to be a Danish supporter of George W. Bush. In RED CHAPEL, Brügger as an unscrupulous stage director travels with two Korean-Danish comedians to North Korea in order to get a better impression of this reclusive country. For THE AMBASSADOR, the director hones his role-playing skills and buys a Liberian diplomatic passport for 135,000 dollars, which gains him access to the diamond trade. The filming of the semi-fictional comedy THE SAINT BERNARD SYNDICATE (2018), in which two Danes, Rasmus and Frederik, want to raise Saint Bernard dogs in China, was also done guerrilla-style, without a shooting permit.

In his latest film, COLD CASE HAMMARSKJÖLD, Brügger attempts to uncover the circumstances surrounding the still-unexplained airplane crash that took the life of Swedish UN Secretary General Dag Hammarskjöld in what was then Northern Rhodesia in 1961. Brügger's research takes him a lot further than he had planned, revealing a network of political conspiracies, covert mercenary groups, entanglements with intelligence agencies, and inhuman experiments by racist white Europeans using the AIDS virus. FILMFEST MÜNCHEN is dedicating a homage to this great cinematic agent provocateur and is proud to welcome Mads Brügger to Munich in person.

Anna Steinbauer

All films of this section >>