CPH:DOX – Summary of the Slimy Visit

The Creeping Garden reached Denmark’s CPH:DOX in mid-November, another oaty node in its ever expanding network of festival screenings across the globe. We hopped over to Copenhagen along with Duncan Brown, the CG wizard responsible for the 3D spore animations in the film, although unfortunately arrived the day after its first screening at the Danish Film Institute on 9 November. This Danish debut was followed by two artists presenting their mushroom and nature inspired work: the biologist, mycologist and specialist in macro-photography Jens H. Petersen and Mette Høst, Danish Artist in Residence at the Niels Bohr Institute.

We were in time, however, to participate in the ‘Science x Cinema’ panel discussion on the Tuesday, alongside such distinguished filmmakers as Marc Schmidt (‘The Chimpanzee Complex’), Pernille Rose Grønkjær (‘Genetic Me’) and Nikolaus Geyrhalter (director of a particular favourite of ours, ‘Our Daily Bread’, at CHP:DOX to showcase his new film ‘CERN’). Much was made in festival’s programme of how science seems to be a bit of an emerging trend in documentary nowadays, although we did note that, unlike The Creeping Garden, the majority of films of this nature showcased at the festival did appear to be made primarily with a television audience in mind.

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The Nordisk Palads Teatret, Copenhagen

Our second screening was in the quite stunning Nordisk Palads Teatret, the oldest cinema in Denmark and the largest too, boasting some 20 screens. We were excited to learn that this very same venue, almost 90 years before, had played host to the world premier of Carl Theodor Dreyer’s monumental Passion of Joan of Arc (1928). A further revelation that we were engaged with a really active piece of world film history came while watching Mirko Stopar’s documentary Nitrate Flames – a rather wonderful reconstruction of the life of the star Dreyer’s classic, Renée Falconetti – when it emerged that the cinema where it was showing, The Dagmar, was at one point managed by this Danish master of cinema.

We had a warm and friendly post-screening Q&A moderated by the festival’s delightfully enthusiastic Caroline Livingstone. The rest of our stay was spent exploring the city’s wonderfully atmospheric streets and marvelling at its architecture while trying to make a dent in its huge programme of documentaries from around the world. It was the first documentary festival we’d travelled to with the film, and it was interesting to see how different the filmmaker and audience dynamics were from our other showings. It is really exciting to see how The Creeping Garden is getting such a wide reception among different types of festival, from genre and science to documentary – the very evening we took our flight back to London, somewhere in an auditorium in Puebla, a group of Mexican gore-hounds had gathered to watch the film for its screening at Morbido.