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Meet the 2012 Sundance Filmmakers #15: Mads Matthiesen’s “Teddy Bear”

Meet the 2012 Sundance Filmmakers #15: Mads Matthiesen's "Teddy Bear"

“Teddy Bear” is the first feature by Danish director Mads Matthiesen. The film features a cast of non-actors led by bodybuilder Kim Kold and will be presented in the World Dramatic competition.

What’s it about? “Teddy Bear” is about the 38 year old Dennis and his trouble with finding love. Dennis is a bodybuilder: 6’7 feet tall, 308 pounds of raw muscle power. Despite his rough appearance, he is a very shy and insecure man. Dennis has problems with finding love and believing in himself. He lives with his mother in a tight and unhealthy relationship. The film deals with Dennis and his attempt to break free from his mother and make it on his own. When Dennis’ uncle returns from Thailand with a Thai wife, Dennis decides to travel to Thailand on a quest for love. Maybe in Thailand, far away from his mother, he can find the courage to begin a relationship with another woman.

Director Mad Matthiesen says: “The reason to why I make movies is probably because I have an urge to tell stories It’s cliché but true. You could say it’s my own attempt to try to understand and connect with my surroundings.

“It’s hard to pinpoint one single challenge that was the hardest while doing this film. One of them was definitely the fact that I wanted to work with “real” people in the cast. Most of the actors in the film are real people (“non actors”) casted in the environment we were filming. The bar girls in Thailand are real bar girls, the men around them are the real people who hang out in these places, and of cause, Kim Kold, the lead actor, is a real professional bodybuilder. Working mostly with amateurs was a big challenge but also a gift, because you get a great deal of authenticity when you work with real people in real environments.

“The film very much deals with different perspectives of love. It is about the love between mother and son, in contrast to the love Dennis is seeking in a female partner. 

“The film also attempts to portray the very different pathways love takes when two very different cultures meet. In Thailand, love is about survival, especially in the poorer strata of society. A woman has to find a husband who can support the entire family, from children to grandparents. That is why poor girls from villages in the North of Thailand head for places like Pattaya. The main character Dennis travels to Pattaya on his quest for love. Pattaya is known for lonely richer western tourists seeking poor Thai women. And vice versa. This encounter between the Asian girls and European men is an interesting one, because in so many ways it seems doomed to go wrong.”

Indiewire invited Sundance Film Festival directors to tell us about their films, including what inspired them, the challenges they faced and what they’re doing next. We’ll be publishing their responses leading up to the 2012 festival.

Keep checking here every day up to the launch for the latest profiles.

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