Peacocks meet Hitchcock, and other audience-friendly innovations at CPH PIX.
Earlier this week, I had my most surreal moviegoing moment: there I was, sat outside under a blanket in front of a giant screen at Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen, watching Alfred Hitchcock’s Torn Curtain. To my left was the famous white pavilion, which showed up on screen as Paul Newman lunched Julie Andrews in this very spot. And then, a strange, unexpected sound – the squawk of one of Tivoli’s wandering peacocks, a few feet away from where I sat watching the giant screen.
That is unique screening atmosphere is just one example of how the growing festival CPH PIX is using innovative events to attract new audiences to its programme.
Other treats this year included a microbrewery crawl (and customised Mikkeller beer) after Drinking Buddies, a cheerleading show with All Cheerleaders Die, and Rear Window shown in a courtyard area between apartment blocks, where residents could watch the film from their own windows while being spied on as in the film.
Other outdoor screenings included 2,000 people turning up for an episode of Game of Thrones (HBO Nordic was the head sponsor of the festival); and William Friedkin’s Cruising presented in a park known for being a local cruising hotspot. Nikolaj Arcel’s political thriller King’s Game celebrated its 10th anniversary with a screening inside Christiansborg (the seat of government).
Local hero Nicolas Winding Refn lead a masterclass with retrospective honoree Friedkin. In a very rare appearance, Tangerine Dream performed the score to Friedkin’s classic Sorcerer.
Another annual highlight at CPH PIX is presenting a silent classic with a newly commissioned score. This year it was Loke Rahbek (of bands Var, Lust for Youth and Sexdrome) performing with Victor Sjostrom’s 1921 Swedish classic The Phantom Carriage (Korkarlen). The film, notable for its early special effects and use of flashbacks, was an inspiration to Bergman. Here at the Grand Teatret in Copenhagen, it was given a modern twist with an edgy, extremely loud score. During the two-week festival, there were other musical performances by Goblin, Josef van Wissem, and Hauschka.
“It’s about getting a younger audience of music lovers to watch films they’ve never heard of, and vice versa, for fans of classic films to discover new music,” says Jacob Neiiendam, festival director of CPH PIX of the silent film initiative, which started in 2010. “We don’t just do concerts to do concerts, we connect them to film,” he adds.
It’s not just about stunts. “We can grab attention by doing crazy stuff sometimes, but it’s about making them aware something is happening and realizing it can be a communal experience,” Neiiendam says.
Of course CPH PIX also offered plenty of ‘typical’ cinema screenings for many other films, but the festival’s innovations definitely inspire local audiences to take chances with viewings – especially at a time of year when they aren’t always trekking to the cinema.
Admissions to the festival are growing, and not just for the events. “It’s a growing trust in our brand, and a growing interest in what can be found in arthouse cinema,” Neiiendam adds.
It’s also about the film programme pushing envelopes and presenting films that audiences in Denmark can’t see year-round, whether that’s The Raid 2, Omar, Gerontophilia, Wrong Cops or Snowpiercer.
Neiiendam says: “It’s moving in the right direction. Audiences are understanding they are seeing something here they can’t get anywhere else.”