Dilemme / Dilemma

(Fiction, Denmark, 1962, 89’, BW, Fr ST)

by Henning Carlsen

with Ivan Jackson, Zakes Mokae, Evelyn Frank



A young Englishman arrives in Johannesburg to manage a branch of an important publishing house. He becomes friends with rich Whites, but also with oppressed Africans. Confronted with a society’s brutality, he finds himself forced to take a position.


“Carlsen was taking a risk filming his first feature film, A World of Strangers, clandestinely in Johannesburg at a time when the harsh realities of apartheid and the vibrant rhythms of the black townships would have blown the mind of any Westerner. More than forty years later, the power and beauty of Carlsen’s film remain intact. A Danish director known for his brilliant adaptation of Knut Hamsun’s Hunger,

Carlsen plunges us, somewhere between documentary and fiction, into the story of a White Liberal torn between privilege and the snobbery of highly securitized neighborhoods and his warm friendships with Blacks in the townships. Musically, the film weaves together jazz, blues, South African marabi, and the conscience-raising Freedom Now suite (1960) by Max Roach accompanied by Abbey Lincoln, as well as the hip-wrenching melodies of Gideon Nxumalao, typical of a multiracial underground shebeen.” Novaziodaonda.wordpress.com

Film Author :

Henning Carlsen
Henning Carlsen

Born in 1927 in Aalborg (Denmark), Henning Carlsen had to interrupt his studies because of the war. He opted for cinema and became the assistant of Theodor Christensen, the founder of the post-war Danish documentary movement. In 1958, he made a documentary about a Danish company that manufactured heating units for South Africa. Four years later, he returned to Johannesburg to film his first feature length film clandestinely, A World of Strangers, based on an anti-apartheid novel by Nadine Gordimer. The film won First Prize at the Manheim Festival in 1962. He then collaborated with independent producer Lorens Marmstedt to direct The Cats in 1965. Hunger (Sult, 1966), an adaptation of the Knut Hamsun novel, won an award at the Cannes Film Festival in 1966. In 1982, Henning Carlsen directed Your Money or Your Life, and then in 1986, Gauguin, The Wolf at the Door (Oviri), written with Jean-Claude Carrière. In 1995, he adapted for the cinema another Hamsun novel Two Green Feathers. From 1968 to 1981, Henning Carlsen managed the prestigious cinema Dagmar Theatret in Copenhagen, succeeding Carl Theodor Dreyer. He taught at the National Film School of Denmark and was at the origin of the creation of the European Film College in Ebeltoft in 1993. Memories of My Melancholy Whores (2012), based on a Gabriel Garcia Marquez novella, was his last film, and was shot in Mexico.

Other movies: THEMA : Black & White

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