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A painfully shy bodybuilder looks for love far from his mother’s watchful eye.
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Dennis, a painfully shy 38-year-old bodybuilder, still lives at home with his manipulative mother in a quiet Copenhagen suburb. Although he has achieved acclaim in the world of competitive bodybuilding, Dennis feels an intense loneliness and longs for true love. When his uncle returns to Denmark with a beautiful Thai bride, Dennis sees an opportunity to look for love far from his mother’s watchful eye. This debut feature is both sensitive and eye-opening (Mads Matthiesen won a Best Direction Award for the film at Sundance earlier this year), and Kim Kold’s intense physical presence and restrained performance as Dennis imbues his character with a remarkable dignity. Shot in a leisurely observational style with a strong script (co-written by one of Denmark’s emerging talents Martin Zandvliet) Teddy Bear is both moving and surprising, heralding Matthiesen as an exciting new voice in Danish cinema.
For me, the story recounted in Teddy Bear is about feeling oneself to be an outsider. I have always been particularly fond of portraying people who do not fit in that well with society. What prejudices do we harbour when confronted with a tattooed, muscle-bound six-foot man? Most of us would reckon this is a criminal of some kind, or at the very least someone prone to violence. At any rate a hard, emotionally stunted individual, and hardly a vulnerable, shy, affectionate person with an overly close relationship with his mother, who has trouble relating to girls. By the same token, there are a great many prejudices against men who travel to Thailand in search of love. They are either booze – sodden sex tourists who exploit all those unfortunate Thai girls, or oddball loners who go there to buy themselves a wife. In Teddy Bear I am attempting to play around with people’s prejudices, and turn them on their head. For things are seldom as they appear from the outside. Prejudices and received ideas about people and who they are all too frequently create divisions between human beings. The film portrays different aspects of love. A mother’s clinging love for her son, which in very many ways is unhealthy, but which is also extremely primal. It is about that mother/son love, in contrast to the love Dennis is seeking in a female partner. It also attempts to portray the very different pathways love between men and women can take in Denmark and Thailand. In the modern day Denmark with its Welfare State, love and family are no longer just about money and survival. People in the West have other criteria when they seek out love than purely financial considerations. In Thailand, things are different. Here that kind of love is all about survival, especially in the poorer strata of society. A woman has to find a husband who can support the entire family, from children to grandparents. It is because of this that poor girls from villages in the North head for places like Pattaya to try their luck with male tourists from Europe who have come there because they have issues with love and self esteem in their own countries – because they feel that back home, they are losers in the game to win women’s favours. The encounter is an interesting one, because in so many ways it is doomed to go wrong. It is an encounter between the West and the Third World, between two very different approaches to love. Despite all this, it is extraordinary what a vast industry is at work behind this kind of encounter, and how often a kind of loving relationship comes into being against all the odds. [...] Teddy Bear is about love, and the search for happiness. It is about the bonds, healthy and unhealthy, that we create with the people we are fond of. And it is about Dennis, who has to learn how to pursue happiness according to his own needs, and not allow himself to be dictated to by his surroundings.
Born in 1976 in Copenhagen, he gained a BA in comparative literature and rhetoric from Copenhagen University in 2005, then graduated as Director from the ‘Super16’ film community in 2008. Over the last ten years, he has directed more than ten short films which have participated and won prizes worldwide. Mum was selected for the Venice Film Festival in 2006, and Dennis premiered in competition at Sundance in 2008. Both of these films subsequently won wide distribution in package programming in the US and Canada. Cathrine (2008) won the Danish Film Academy’s Robert Prize for the best short fiction film of 2009. Teddy Bear is his first feature film as director.
2001 Maveonde [s]
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