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Visit biografmuseet.dk about Danish cinemas


Travelling 600 Miles From Dundee to Gentofte

The 70mm Newsletter
Written and photographed by: Cieran McCuskerDate: 01.03.2024
Cieran McCusker as seen by Thomas Hauerslev in Gentofte Kino.

Dundee, Scotland. Friday 26th January, 2024. 4:45am.

Tonight’s screening of "Where Eagles Dare" at GIFF70 in Copenhagen is over 14 hours and 600 miles away but I’m up and ready (albeit slightly sleep-deprived) to make it there. It’s the first time I’ve flown or been abroad since before the pandemic so I’m slightly nervous but full of excitement as I grab my bags, head out of the house and catch the bus to Edinburgh airport.

Fast-forward through a timely arrival, a successful navigation of check-in, security, boarding (and a mandatory pre-flight, 9am pint, of course) and we’re off over the North Sea on a beautiful, sunny morning. It is raining when we land at Copenhagen airport… but although the city is dampened, spirits are not as I set foot on Scandinavian soil for the first time! After a quick train ride into the city centre I’m keen to get to my hotel and grab a mid-afternoon nap but the adrenaline has other ideas so I instead dump my bags, grab a bite to eat and set off on another train for the suburb of Gentofte, the home of GIFF 70, some 5-6 miles north of Copenhagen city centre.

Darkness has descended by the time I get there but I manage to find my way to Gentofte Kino - a cinema housed within a block of apartments which looks quite small from the outside but is beautifully designed, decorated, and plush on the inside. Posters, film projectors, and cinema memorabilia line the foyer and now I know I have truly arrived. Thankful that most Danes speak near-perfect English, I’m also able to collect all of my tickets for the weekend, relax, and take in the atmosphere as the foyer fills up with excited cinephiles.
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Poster display at the Gentofte Kino.

It is at this point that I spot Sune, the cinema’s owner, who seems to be in a million places at once - selling tickets, serving snacks, pouring drinks, chatting with customers, running up to the projection room, manning the door. I manage to grab a few minutes with him and introduce myself, each of us sharing our excitement for the weekend ahead. I also put in an early word about possibly seeing the projection room at some point in the coming days - more on that later…

Sune is soon whisked away to help with a rapidly-filling auditorium which I also enter myself for the first time. I had seen a few images of the cinema before but deliberately avoided looking at too many and as I step in I am struck by the size, height, and particularly the length of the room (all completely hidden from street level!) but I am more than impressed with it and its design; its lovely proscenium, the two sets of tabs, the masking, the spacious seating, the retro chairs, and the curious rectangular room at the back beside projection - which I later learned can be privately hired. The only slight drawback is that I wish my seat for the evening were a bit closer to the front although it would be for the rest of the festival.

After getting accustomed to my surroundings, bemusedly watching some Danish adverts, and nipping back out for a quick coffee, Sune returns, taking centre-stage to welcome a packed crowd to the festival and tonight’s presentation of WHERE EAGLES DARE. I don’t understand a word of what is being said but the warm reception from the audience tells me that everyone is on-board and eagerly awaiting the show. And indeed they are - with a well-rehearsed and presented opening, the tabs open up and the Gentofte audience applauds and cheers at Clint Eastwood’s first appearance.
Sune L Thomsen introducing the show from the stage at the Gentofte Kino.

Rightly so. I should admit here that this is my first ever viewing of WHERE EAGLES DARE (I know, I know). But I like to save big films like these for big occasions like these - on a cinema screen, in 70mm. The print is slightly faded but certainly not bad at all for a film from this era and is otherwise in pretty good condition overall - and still way better than watching it at home on TV any day, of course. 29 years of waiting vindicated!

As the film progresses and we approach the intermission, I find the full day of my travels catching up with me and although enjoying the action unfold, I am grateful for the break so I can hunt down some more coffee. Thankfully, the thundering entr’acte (which, like ol’ Clint, receives cheers and applause) perks me up as the film also builds towards its dramatic climax high in the German Alps. Once all is said and done and the credits roll and the curtains come down on the show, the side doors to the auditorium are pushed open - which I must say I’ve not experienced many times before - and a pleased and entertained audience braves the cold of the wintery Danish night. I catch Sune again quickly and thank him for the show before heading off to catch the train back into Copenhagen. I can’t resist a nightcap at a much-recommended and eccentric train station bar in town but one is all I can manage on this amount of sleep (and at the eye-watering Copenhagen prices!) and I stumble back to my hotel, crashing to sleep almost immediately.

GIFF70, Day 2

Gentofte Kino entrance.

There is, conveniently, a very pleasant looking hotel in Gentofte right next to the Kino but having never been to Copenhagen before I had opted instead to stay in the city centre in order to see more of the sights and attractions when not perched in front of a movie screen. So, feeling a touch more rested and rejuvenated, I do exactly this on my first morning - taking a walk down to the waterfront, over to Christianshavn and the infamous Freetown Christiania neighbourhood before nipping back across the water to the tourist and postcard-picture hotspot, Nyhavn, and then onto the beautiful Rosenborg Castle.

The first movie at GIFF70 on the day is David Lynch’s “Dune” but as I had already seen this in 70mm a few years ago at the Prince Charles Cinema in London, I am instead on my way to Cinemateket - the Danish Film Institute - to see Sofia Coppola’s LOST IN TRANSLATION in 35mm. I arrive early so there is a chance to relax after all the walking, get some food, and have a look around the very modern and chic building which reminds me of a slightly smaller version of London’s BFI.

It is then time for LOST IN TRANSLATION (after a lengthy introduction which I also don’t understand) but the screening is fantastic. Although neither of Cinemateket’s two cinemas have tabs, the presentation is superb and the print from the Danish film archive near enough flawless. I manage to clock the projectionist, Henrik, after the screening, thank him for the show, and ask if there might be time to have a peek into the projection room - which luckily there is! The Cinemateket has two very narrow projection rooms, one on top of the other (joined by a small but steep spiral staircase) and due to the limited space the venue presents most of their 35mm shows on single reels with Cinemameccanica Victoria 5’s. Changeovers aplenty and I am informed they have an average of 10 shows per week on 35mm! A very healthy amount for any cinema in 2024. There is also a Kinoton machine for 16mm. A massive thanks to Bruno, Henrik, and the front of house team for this rare chance to see behind the scenes!
Danish cinema icon, Cinematographer Mikael Salomon, ACS, DFF was introducing his own "The Abyss". Picture: Thomas Hauerslev

After the quick tour at Cinemateket there is little time to waste with less than an hour to hop on the train to make the evening’s showing of James Cameron’s “The Abyss” in Gentofte - and this is a very special showing as it is introduced by none other than the film’s cinematographer, and Danish cinema icon, Mikael Salomon. Of course, the intro and post-screening Q&A are once again in Danish (although I have since been able to Google translate the transcription of the Q&A elsewhere on this website!) but it is nevertheless a pleasure to be in the presence of someone who provided such incredible work and craft on this much-overlooked behemoth of a film. It may not have been shot with 65mm film but the blow-up from 35mm looks fantastic and the 6-track magnetic soundtrack is unbelievable. I have not had the opportunity to experience many 6-track mag screenings (most 70mm prints nowadays are, of course, DTS) so this is rather special. Following the screening and Q&A, Mr Salomon is swamped by many keen fans although I do manage a minute of his time to pass on my own thanks and admiration for his work.

• Go to Q/A with Mikael Salomon at the Gentofte Kino (In Danish)

As I am about to make my way for the train back into Copenhagen, three gentlemen emerge from the cinema, one of whom I am familiar with from an earlier discussion and his filming of tonight’s event - one Mr Hauerslev - and I am then also introduced to Jan and Orla, two of Gentofte Kino’s fine projection team. We discuss the screening and the merits of the 6-track mag sound before deciding to go to the bar just next door to the cinema. Over a gin and tonic, it is brilliant to hear about their many years of projection experience in Denmark, their continued passion for 70mm, and a fascinating story about how a DP70 made its way across the North Sea some time ago and now finds itself on display at the earlier-mentioned BFI in London. Some work!

Aware that it is getting late and that there are more 70mm festivities to be had tomorrow, we drink up, say our goodbyes and head our separate ways to get some rest before the 3rd and final day of GIFF 70.

GIFF70, Day 3

For the “weepies” who are seeing "Out of Africa", packets of tissues are on offer to guests at the entrance.

Day 3 is, as it turns out, is the only day I am seeing more than one film at GIFF70 so after another morning of sightseeing and a whistle-stop tour of some other beautiful Copenhagen cinemas (Grand Teatret, Dagmar, Palads, Imperial Bio, Vester Vov Vov), I am back on the way to Gentofte one last time… but a special treat awaits. Yes, I have been given permission to have a look inside the usually-off-limits projection room at Gentofte Kino! Orla greets me at the door on the ground floor and we head upstairs to the room where all the magic happens. I’ve arrived at an opportune time as although there is no film playing, the projection team is getting ready for the day’s 70mm double-bill of “Out of Africa” and “The Sheltering Sky”. Indeed the former is being rewound from one platter bed to another through the majestic DP70 as I walk through the door (it has to be done this way as I’m told that the print is somewhat fragile and this is more gentle on the film than using the make-up table). Even though the lamp is not on and there is no image on-screen it is still special to hear the DP70 purring away. It has been some time since I’d last laid eyes and ears on one in action. The pristine-clean projection room at Gentofte Kino furthermore houses the cinema’s digital projector, an impressive sound rack and, in the corner, a Bauer 16mm. I am also introduced to Alan, another of Gentofte Kino’s projectionists, during my brief visit and it is clear that between this team there is an incredible wealth of projection experience and no question that the presentation at GIFF70 is in very safe and capable hands. After snapping and chatting away it is too soon time to leave the gentlemen to their work and preparations - I probably could have spent the rest of the day up there - and head down to take my seat for OUT OF AFRICA. In a humorous touch, packets of tissues are on offer to guests at the entrance to the auditorium so I guess we are in for a “weepie”!

Try as it might, however, I must admit that I was not a massive fan of the film itself but the print held firm and the colours looked sensational on-screen. Certainly an epic and they certainly don’t make them like that anymore.

There is then just enough time to catch a bite to eat and a quick coffee before heading back in for what is - incredibly somehow - the final film of the festival, THE SHELTERING SKY. The weekend has truly flown by. As I take my seat, I have no idea what I’m in for but Bertolucci’s insane fever-trip through the African desert is unleashed upon the audience from a dazzling, imported 70mm print. It is quite the ride and personally I am unable to take my eyes off of it as the film’s characters venture into some of the most far-flung locations which light up the Gentofte Kino screen. In my opinion it was the best-looking print of the festival (best-sounding going to THE ABYSS).
The wonderfully talented and knowledgeable projection team: Orla, Alan and Jan. Picture: Thomas Hauerslev

Feeling fully like I have myself been to Africa and back over the course of the day, the credits roll on this bewildering but fascinating film and the tabs fittingly close on the end title card, bringing to a conclusion my time at GIFF70. I count myself lucky as it really has been a wonderful and fully worthwhile experience getting to see these 70mm prints which are simply unavailable in the UK, just as it has been a pleasure getting to sit in a beautiful, purpose-built cinema all weekend, and getting to know some of the lovely staff and fellow attendees at the festival. After taking a few final photos, I make my way out of the auditorium’s side doors, head for the train, and back to my hotel. There’s a long day of travel ahead back to Scotland the following day…

I can only end this all by saying thank you again to the incredibly passionate Sune, the wonderfully talented and knowledgeable projection team, and the extremely kind and helpful front of house staff at Gentofte Kino, all of whom made me feel welcome and at home over the weekend despite my language shortcomings! Mange tak! And to those who have never been to GIFF70 but are considering it, I would of course fully recommend it. It is a fantastic opportunity to not only see some rare 70mm prints but to also see them presented in a wonderful setting with such care and passion which is evident from the front lobby all the way to the lovely, big image on-screen.

From my first - and certainly not last - visit to GIFF70 in Copenhagen, thank you for reading and long live 70mm!

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Travelling 600 Miles From Dundee to Gentofte
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Updated 01-03-24