Friday, November 25, 2005

Film about Muhammed Welcome in Denmark

The following text is an English translation of an article from the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten. The translation has been provided by Sappho, the magazine of the Danish Free Press Society:

Film about Muhammed Welcome in Denmark

The Danish film industry is not afraid of supporting or producing a controversial film about the prophet Muhammed with a manuscript by Ayaan Hirsi Ali. All it takes is a specific project.

By Jesper Stein Larsen and Gerd Laugesen

Neither The Danish Film Institute nor the film producer Zentropa [which is behind many notable films such as the ones directed by Lars von Trier] would have any problems supporting or producing a controversial film about the prophet Muhammed based on a manuscript by the Dutch politician and author Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

The Somalian-born Ayaan Hirsi Ali has told the Internet magazine Sappho that she is prepared to produce an Islamic version of the famous Monty Python film "The Life of Brian" -- with Muhammed as the main character instead of Jesus -- in Denmark, and that she could finish a script very quickly.


The Director of The Danish Film Institute, Henning Camre, does not anticipate any problems allocating public money for a film with this content.

"I have only read about it in Jyllands-Posten, but if she writes a manuscript and finds a Danish producer, we will treat her application just like any other. We have no limitations on freedom of speech in Denmark. ... So far, however, it appears to be rather offhand and unspecified. For example, what language would be used? And would it be interesting from a Danish perspective if it was not made in Danish? This raises some questions, but as a starting point we would have no problems investing money in it from a free speech point of view," says Henning Camre.

Nor is Peter Aalbæk Jensen, CEO of Zentropa, frightened by the thought of producing a critical film about the prophet Muhammed.

"We make all kinds of films from the far left to the far right. It is our film directors who decide the contents, and we have no other position than that there is room for everything. If a director wants to make a film that praises Osama bin Laden, we will make that too," says Peter Aalbæk Jensen.

-- If Hirsi Ali comes to you with a manuscript for a controversial Muhammed film, would you make it?

"Yes, if we could find a willing director. ..."

Screen writer and teacher at The Danish Film School, Mogens Rukov [the man behind many internationally successful Danish films], thinks that the film ought to be made.

"... My position is that there is nothing that cannot be done because some people feel offended. The entire middle class is obsessed with fear and polite deference to all kinds of fascism, but we should not let ourselves be influenced by that. ..."


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