Oscars: Denmark Selects 'Queen of Hearts' for International Feature Film Category

QUEEN OF HEARTS Still 1 - Sundance Publicity-H 2019
Courtesy of Sundance Institute

May el-Toukhy's Sundance Audience Award winner stars Trine Dyrholm as a successful lawyer who jeopardizes both career and family when she seduces her 17-year-old stepson.

Denmark has picked May el-Toukhy's controversial Queen of Hearts as its official selection for the 2020 Oscars in the international feature film category.

The drama premiered at Sundance, where it won the audience award. It stars Trine Dyrholm (In a Better World) as a successful lawyer who puts both her career and family on the line when she seduces her 17-year-old stepson, played by Gustav Lindh. Queen of Hearts has been a commercial hit in Denmark and has picked up a trophy case of awards, including the audience award, the best Nordic film honor and the best acting prize for Dyrholm at Sweden's Göteborg Film Festival.

U.S. distributor Breaking Glass has picked up domestic rights for Queen of Hearts, and the film has sold well internationally, with Thunderbird taking rights in the U.K. and Ireland, Lumix taking South Korea, Arteplex acquiring rights in Brazil, and ADS Service handling the film's release in Hungary. TrustNordisk is handling world sales of the title.

Queen of Hearts beat out the other two films on Denmark's Oscar shortlist this year: Jesper Christensen's 19th-century period drama Before the Frost, which premiered in Toronto last year, and Daniel, a drama from directors Niels Arden Oplev and Anders W. Berthelsen, which follows the experience of Danish photojournalist Daniel Rye, who was held hostage in Syria by the Islamic State. One of his cellmates was James Foley, the American journalist whom the Islamic State eventually murdered.

Denmark is among the most successful countries at the Oscars. The tiny Scandinavian nation has been nominated 12 times and won three Oscars in what used to be the best foreign-language film category, most recently in 2011 for Susanne Bier's In a Better World.

Still, the country has not had a particularly strong run at the Oscars lately, with five nominations from the past seven years. Last year's submission, Gustav Möller's one-room thriller The Guilty, made the Oscar shortlist but was not nominated.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will announce the five nominations for international feature film Oscar on Jan. 13, 2020. The winner will be announced on Oscar night in Los Angeles on Feb. 9.