Screened as part of NZIFF 2016

The Idealist 2015


Directed by Christina Rosendahl World

A plane crash, government corruption and nuclear warheads are just some of the ingredients for this taut Danish docu-drama, set in the aftermath of the Cold War. Based on a book by the award-winning journalist Poul Brink.

Denmark In Danish, English, Greenlandic and Spanish with English subtitles
114 minutes DCP



Jonas Frederiksen
Signe Leick Jensen
Ane Mandrup


Lars K. Andersen
Simon Pasternak
Birgitte Stærmose
Christina Rosendahl. Based on the book Thulesagen, løgnens univers by Poul Brink


Laust Trier Mørk


Janus Billeskov Jansen
Olivier Bugge Coutté
Molly Malene Stensgaard

Production designers

Nikolaj Danielsen
M. Wan Sputnick

Costume designer

Louize Nissen


Jonas Struck
Christoffer Møller


Peter Plaugborg (Poul Brink)
Søren Malling (Marius Schmidt)
Arly Jover (Estíbaliz)
Thomas Bo Larsen (Carl Dinesen)
Jens Albinus (Blicher)
Nikolaj Caderholm (Læge Pontoppidan)
Henrik Birch (Ole Damgaard)
Filippa Suensson (Eva
Jesper Hyldegaard (Lars Krogsgård)
Claus Bue (Per Strandgaard Jensen)


In the vein of a classic investigative journalism thriller, Christina Rosendahl’s gripping drama The Idealist unravels the deeply compromised relationship between her home nation of Denmark and the United States during the fraught tensions of the Cold War. The titular idealist is Poul Brink, a real-life Danish radio journalist who began working a story on plutonium poisoning in the late 80s, and ended up exposing a 20-year-old international cover-up – in which a military plane crash, missing nuclear weapons, secret documents and sprawling governmental deceit are some of the more alarming elements.

As Brink’s investigation takes him from hospitals and union meetings right into the corridors of power, Rosendahl pulls out all the suspenseful stops of the genre: the thinly veiled threats warning our hero to tread lightly, the mounting pressure on his news network to back off, the ominous black cars that start appearing in his rear-view mirror. But what distinguishes Rosendahl’s entry is her incorporation of real television footage from Danish archives into the narrative. Seeing the actual locations and figures in question works to ground these events in a contextual immediacy, which seems to make the effect of its revelations all the more powerful and sobering.

In an age of galloping globalisation and inscrutable international agreements around security and trade, The Idealist feels like a particularly resonant reminder of the concessions that arise when a little nation aligns itself with the powers of a major one. — JF