A Danish movie star and filmmaker were stunned when a reporter asked about the lack of diversity in their new film, “The Promised Land,” which takes place in Denmark in the 1750s, during a recent Venice Film Festival press conference.
An unnamed reporter from Denmark asked, “This is a cast and Danish production that is entirely Nordic, therefore has some lack of diversity, you would say, there’s also new rules implied in Hollywood.”
Danish actor Mads Mikkelsen, who stars in the film made by his fellow countryman Nikolaj Arcel, cut off the question while shaking his head in disbelief.
“What? From the get-go,” Mikkelsen said while laughing.
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The reporter then said there are “rules of diversity across the Atlantic,” noting that the Academy Awards have representation and inclusion standards for Oscars eligibility in the Best Picture category.
“Are you worried about that?” the reporter asked.
Mikkelsen, who recently starred in the latest “Indiana Jones” film, appeared agitated. He shot back, “Are you?”
The reporter then evoked “Parasite” – which won Best Picture for the 2019 movie year – a South Korean film with a prominently South Korean cast and crew. It would be eligible for the top prize under the new rules while he said an “all-Nordic cast” is not.
Arcel then chimed in and shut down the reporter.
“First of all, the film takes place in Denmark in the 1750s,” Arcel said.
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“We do have a big plot line about a girl of color who is being subjected to racism, which was very rare, any people of color in Denmark… almost, nobody. She was probably at the time the only one in the entire country of Denmark,” Arcel continued. “It wasn’t a thought in our mind. I think it would be a little weird, it’s just historical, it’s just how it was in the 1750s.”
In the film, Mikkelsen plays Ludvig von Khalen, a soldier who “arrives in 1755 on the barren Jutland heath with a single goal: to follow the king’s call to cultivate the land and thereby achieve wealth and honor himself,” according to its IMDB synopsis.
Mikkelsen and Arcel previously worked together on the 2012 film “A Royal Affair.”
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The Academy Awards have faced criticism after implementing new diversity and inclusion guidelines for 2024. The guidelines must be adhered to by any film to be considered for Best Picture.
Several voting members sounded the alarm after the Academy Awards released its Aperture 2025 initiative — a sweeping set of regulations designed to make Hollywood more equitable and diverse.
Beginning in 2024, film producers and directors will be required to submit to the Academy a dossier of the sort that points to the race, gender, sexual orientation and disability status of their film’s cast and crew members. Legendary actor Richard Dreyfuss has condemned Hollywood’s new inclusivity standards in strong terms, claiming they make him “vomit.”
In 2020, the Oscars released the controversial guidelines and explained that the new rules “are designed to encourage equitable representation on and off the screen in order to better reflect the diversity of the movie-going audience.”
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Fox News’ Nikolas Lanum and Stephanie Giang-Paunon contributed to this report.
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