For a thousand years, Denmark has been an independent kingdom. Since 1849 it has been ruled with a democratic constitution and for over a century has enjoyed a generally peaceful history. Perhaps this history explains why Danish cinema in general is characterized by an atmosphere of jovial, often self-ironic humor and provincial calm. Denmark has been a film nation since the beginning of film history in the 1890s, and for some years around 1910, the Danish film industry was among the leading in Europe. This position, however, did not last long and after World War I, the impact of Danish cinema declined.

With the arrival of sound in Denmark in 1931, Danish film, soon dominated by popular comedies, became a profitable national business. However, with the arrival of television in the 1950s, cinema attendance declined, and in the 1960s the state began supporting the production of artistic films, since 1972 through The Danish Film Institute. Since the mid-1990s, Denmark has won a new position in world cinema, rather surprising for a nation with a population of 5.4 million and a yearly output of around twenty-five feature films (in all, about 1,000 Danish feature films have been produced since 1930). In particular, a groundbreaking filmmaker like Lars von Trier and his initiative, Dogma 95, have received international attention.

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