Gifts of Chance – a film about Jørgen Leth
"We try to grasp the fleeting moment and are afraid of losing it by knowing it too well.”
Poet and filmmaker Jørgen Leth looks back at more than 50 years of experimental filmmaking, working with artists from Andy Warhol to Lars von Trier.
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“It’s as if we are in love. We are struck by a feeling. We try to grasp the fleeting moment and are afraid of losing it by knowing it too well.” For the first time, Leth gives us a thorough insight into his poetic visions and shares the stories of what became groundbreaking works. Ranging from his first portrait of legendary jazz pianist Bud Powell (Stopforbud, 1963), his pseudo-anthropological feature film (Good and Evil, 1975), and his one-of-a-kind sports documentary (A Sunday in Hell, 1976), to his iconic scene with Andy Warhol eating a hamburger (66 Scenes from America, 1982), and his collaboration with fellow director Lars von Trier (The Five Obstructions, 2003). Moreover, he lets us have a rare look at his film notes for his next, most personal work to date. Leth calls this documentary, ‘Gifts of Chance’, “a film school in itself.”
Jørgen Leth (b. 1937) is a Danish poet, writer and film director, who is considered among the leading figures in experimental documentary filmmaking. He has made more than 40 films, among which he is particularly noted for ‘The Perfect Human’ (1968) (‘Det perfekte menneske’), ‘Motion Picture’ (1970), ‘A Sunday in Hell’ (1977) (‘En forårsdag I helvede’), ‘66 Scenes from America’ (1981) (‘66 scener fra Amerika’), ‘The Five Obstructions’ (2003) (‘De fem benspænd’) (which was made in collaboration with the acclaimed Danish film director Lars von Trier) and ‘Erotic Man’ (2010) (‘Det erotiske menneske’). His many books include ‘Sports Poems’ (1967), the poetry collection ‘It Passes Me’ (1975) (‘Det går forbi mig’), the memoir ‘The Imperfect Man. Scenes from My Life’ (2005) (‘Det uperfekte menneske – selvbiografi’) and ‘The Gifts of Chance – Essays About Filmmaking’ (‘Tilfældets gaver – Tekster om at lave film’). Leth is the recipient of prestigious awards such as the 1995 Drachmann Award for his literary oeuvre, the 1996 and the 2000 Danish Film Academy’s Robert Award and the 2009 Honorary Bodil Award for lifetime achievement (for his films).
Jørgen Leth was interviewed by Kasper Bech Dyg at his home on Majorca, Spain in March 2018.
Camera: Jakob Solbakken
Produced, edited and directed by Kasper Bech Dyg
Colour grading: Klaus Elmer
Copyright: Louisiana Channel, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, 2020
Supported by Nordea fonden