mandag den 24. september 2012

Leth performs in Copenhagen Jazzhouse

It was great fun and an exciting challenge for me to perform with Jakob Bro and his group of super talented musicians in Copenhagen Jazzhouse on Saturday, September 22. Jakob is one of the most gifted young jazz musicians in Europe. I met him first time in New York a few years ago in the legendary Avatar Studio where he recorded some of his wonderful ballads with jazz giants Lee Konitz, Paul Motian, Bill Frisell, Ben Street. I was proud to be asked to write the cover notes for that album, titled 'Balladeering'.

Then we performed as a duo at the literature festival 'Vild Med Ord' (Crazy about words) in Aarhus on September the 7th. I read poems, Jakob played on his guitar. Next came the event in Jazzhouse with his selected group Maria Laurette Friis, Jesper Zeuthen, Jakob Kullberg, Nicolai Munch-Hansen. I read poems from 'Collected Poems 1962-2012', the musicians improvised brilliant patterns, we listened to each other's ideas and had an inspired feeling of coherence and imagination. The audience seemed to enjoy it.

Photo credit: Svend Withfelt

torsdag den 6. september 2012

Leth challenges DFI

For the past year, Leth has been planning to make a sequel to his now 40-year-old classic, 'Life in Denmark'. But when applying for funding from Danish Film Institute, he has been met by a somewhat surprising response from the film consultant dealing with his application. The consultant refused to support the project unless there be made considerable creative changes. Leth was encouraged to work cross-media and abandon his reknown personal reflective style to cater to the consultant's suggestion that he 'take a stand'. The consultant also suggested that Leth leave his old film crew behind and seek new and younger talent as A-functions to his team.

Needless to say, Leth refused to be creatively controlled, which has now led to a refusal of funding from DFI. Jørgen Leth: 'I have no problem discussing cross-media or other buzzwords. I have a Mac. I have an iPad. I have an iPhone. But these tools will never dictate the cinematic language of any film that I make. That would be creative and artistic suicide. I am not ready to change my approach to filmmaking to accommodate to some airy, passing eagerness to please an audience, less of all a random film consultant.'

The case in point has spurred a larger debate about film support in Denmark. In the Danish film magazine Ekko, the editor in chief pinpoint the problem: 'Everyone must be subjected to the rules of the system. But at the same time it is crucial that consultants, curators and editors of Danish cultural life realize that they are not artists. Their task is to promote art. They are not, and should never be, a kind of co-creators, whose personal ambitions, ideas and outlook on life must be met by the artist in order to get access to state funding.'

For more about the issue, please visit one of the following links: Ekko, Politiken, Information.


mandag den 3. september 2012

Jørgen Leths Æresløb

On the last day of summer, Friday August 31st, the legendary Aarhus Cyklebane once again came to life. Local bicycle enthusiasts from CK Aarhus staged an event called Jørgen Leth Æresløb (Jorgen Leth honorary bicycle race). Combining Leth's childhood passion for the old bicycle-racing track with his connection to his home of many years, Haiti, all profit from the race was donated to the NGO 'Médecins sans Frontieres' work in Haiti.

Jørgen Leth explains:

'On several occations I have fought to keep the old bicycle track alive. It appears in my film 'Aarhus' (2005), it is the main location in the music video I made with Steffen Brandt, and it has a prominent position in my sports poems from 1967 as well as in my memoirs. There hasn't been an audience on the dying racing track for years, but last week, thanks to local enthusiasts, the old location was once again full of life. The atmosphere was great, and the racers - some of the best from the Danish cycling elite - did a great effort. It was entertaining to see the many different races. Volunteers and sponsors did a great job in renovating the old tribune, making it suitable for a great dinner by chef Jacob Sørensen. I did a speach and read some of my sports poems. The experience tied together two very important parts of my life, my childhood adventures on the racing track, and my life and engagement in Haiti.'

For press coverage of the event, please visit one of the following links: Århus Stifttidende or

For more pictures from the event, please go here.

Photo credits: / Thore Rytter Klitgaard and / Kim Haugaard