'In a Better World': second time lucky for Dane

"In a Better World," which won the best foreign film Academy Award on Sunday, is a Danish-language drama about child anger by director Susanne Bier, which won her a second Oscar nomination.

The movie tells the story of an aid doctor who travels between his quiet home life in an idyllic village in Denmark - where his marriage is collapsing - and a chaotic refugee camp in Africa.

His 10-year-old son Elias is meanwhile getting bullied at school, but strikes up a friendship with another boy, Christian - and the pair plunge into a violent circle of revenge that eventually leads to them blowing up the truck.

Also called "Revenge," the translation of its Danish title, the film has attracted over 400,000 movie-goers in Denmark and has been distributed in more than 50 countries.

Its Oscars triumph comes four years after Bier won her first Oscars nomination, again for best foreign language film for her 2006 drama "After the Wedding."

"I don't make movies to be nominated at the Oscars, but because I like telling stories," said the 50-year-old filmmaker who made her first movie in 1986, and is well-known in her homeland.

According to Frederikke Lett, Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten's movie critic, the film is a "masterpiece" in which Bier manages to "describe and show the feelings that touch us directly at the heart."

The director says the film is about learning.

"Christian goes from being a very angry kid to be someone who has learned something, and who might eventually turn into a compassionate human being, because he has met compassion," she said.

"There is substance in my films, but also entertainment, and that combination seems to have got the attention of the selection committee," the director added.

The movie, which beat films from Mexico, Greece, Canada and Algeria to win at this year's ceremony, has already snagged the best foreign language film award at last month's Golden Globes.

Bier also made the 2007 drama "The Things we Lost in the Fire," which received rave reviews and starred big names like Halle Berry and Benicio del Toro.

Bier describes her work as "popular," a label she blames for her lack of acclaim at the Cannes film festival, which "selects extremely elitist films, and my films are not for them," she said.

"She is not Lars von Trier," their common producer, Peter Aalbaeck Jensen told AFP shortly before the Oscars. "But she draws spectators on another register with touching stories, on the limit of melodrama," he said.

"Making films is for me not about making small avant-garde films no one wants to see," Bier told European film industry news website Cineuropa last August.

Speaking in Los Angeles more recently, she said: "I don't want to make movies where you leave the cinema and just want to jump from the next bridge.

"I want people leave the cinema and have things to think about, but still feel that there's hope and feel that human being is capable of acting in a way that makes the difference. Because that's what I believe."


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