News / Highlights


Highlights - 13/01/2009


Charlotte Giese, Head of the Children and Youth department of the Danish Film Institute



Denmark has one of the most comprehensive systems for supporting cinema in Europe and the initiatives put in place by the Danish Film Institute are often studied by Denmark’s European neighbours. Films for young audiences are not overlooked, as 25% of the assistance allocated to production is dedicated to such films by law. On average, this results in 6 films for young cinema-goers being produced every year – a remarkable number for a country with a population of 5.4 million. We found out more about the young audience initiatives implemented by the DFI in an interview with the head of its “Children and Youth” department, Charlotte Giese.

How did the “Children and Youth” department come about within the Danish Film Institute? What are its aims and objectives?


Assisting production lies at the heart of the system of support put in place by the Danish Film Institute (DFI). It is from this assistance that the DFI’s initiatives are derived in the areas of distribution, marketing, exhibition and image-related education – all of which are interconnected.
In the 1990s, education in relation to images was a long way from being a priority. A “Children and youth film centre” was therefore established in 1998 within the DFI. The aim here was, on the one hand, to ensure the continuity of initiatives focusing on education in the area of images and to build up our knowledge of young audiences, and, on the other, to support the short films and documentaries in which the DFI participates. The department, which originally comprised 3 people, now has a staff of 16, 6 of whom are specifically responsible for FILM-X, an interactive studio for the production of films created by children, which was set up in 2002. In 2007, the Centre changed its name and became "DFI Children and Youth”.
The distribution of the films supported is largely based on the education system (schools and libraries). We allow teachers to have cheap, or even free, access to the films so that they can be studied in class. Teachers can download “study guides” and teaching material on short films, feature films and documentaries from our website.

Education in the areas of images and media is compulsory in Denmark within the context of the teaching of the Danish language. How does your initiative complement this teaching, which is already integrated into primary and secondary schools?


Education relating to images needs to become genuinely compulsory, rather than merely being integrated into the teaching of Danish. This will require more effective collaboration between the Ministries of Education and Culture.
Teachers rarely have the training and tools required to teach on the subject of images. Our work involves determining what content they could use and how. We therefore organise training workshops for teachers throughout Denmark (a good fifty or so workshops last year). In our opinion all teachers should have access to this kind of training.
It is the schools that provide the training to the teachers who enrol. We promote these workshops in specialist education magazines and in regional information and teacher-training centres, which are excellent channels for relaying information.

What is the position of the film theatre within your initiative?


I would like to underline that we understand “films for children” to mean films that can be shown to children in a broad sense. They have not, therefore, been made specifically for children, and are certainly not films that are infantile or childish in nature.
Originally, we drew inspiration from the Swedish model and, based on this, created a programme of image-related education, via the film theatre, that would be supported by the national education system. Our programme now has a concrete existence and addresses all age groups, particularly the very young (nursery schools, crèches, etc.), amongst whom it is proving to be extremely successful.
We have put together a substantial catalogue of films for young audiences. Twice a year we organise screenings of films intended for schoolchildren and, in this context, sell 250,000 cinema tickets a year. The most difficult audience to reach are adolescents. Certain children have never been to the cinema and we would like to achieve a situation where a child attends at least one cinema screening a year, then, once this target has been met, two screenings a year.
These screenings are held in partner cinemas throughout the country. We present them with a catalogue of films that is as broad as possible, comprising films with mass appeal and arthouse films.
We are currently thinking about how we could quantify the impact of these screenings on young audiences and on their cinema attendance.

Tell us about the films that you make available to teachers on Internet and about the agreements you have reached with the distributors of these films.


Originally, our aim was to support the distribution of films supported by the “National Film Board” and their prints on 16 mm, 35 mm, DVD, etc. However, we would like to completely replace physical distribution with streaming: teachers are already able to have access to short films and documentaries that the DFI have supported, as well as a few feature films (mainly classics), on a platform called . This represents a catalogue of more than 500 films that receive production assistance from the Danish Film Institute.
When this assistance is granted, it is agreed with the producers that the DFI will be able to benefit from non-commercial distribution rights for use within an educational context. We acquire these rights for around fifty films a year.
For certain films, the producers nevertheless want a physical medium, even though the films will be available via streaming. They can receive assistance for the production of this medium.
I would like to make clear that all this relates in particular to short films and documentaries. As far as feature films are concerned, the Ministries of Culture and Education have been in discussion for a number of years.

What importance do you attach to festivals?


The Buster Film Festival, the main festival for children, was set up by the DFI and is now running under its own steam. We also cooperate with two other festivals: CPH:DOX (documentaries), which is starting to programme films for young audiences and an increasing number of screenings for schoolchildren; and the Odense short film festival, which now has a section specifically for children.
I would like to take this opportunity to mention the next event in Copenhagen, the first CPH:PIX festival, which will be held from 16 to 26 April. This is the result of the merger of NatFilm and the Copenhagen International Film Festival.

Emilie Boucheteil
(with Jean-Baptiste Selliez)

January 2009 - - -
Pictures (from top): Charlotte Giese, Fighter, Max Pinlig, Frode og alle de andre rodder